Exposing the medical 'code of silence'
Dr. Marty Makary (second from right) speaks with colleagues at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
September 20th, 2012
09:38 AM ET

Exposing the medical 'code of silence'

By Libby Lewis, CNN

(CNN) – Marty Makary’s new book “Unaccountable” leaves you with an unsettling view: if you wind up in the emergency room needing surgery – or even if you choose a doctor or a hospital for your surgery – it can amount to Russian roulette.

You might get good care. You might even get great care. Or you might get the doctor or the hospital that's a loaded gun with the safety off.

To make his point, he tells scary, heart-rending stories – some about his own mistakes and near-misses as a surgeon.

[3:45] “I feel like unless we are honest about our problems, we can’ t fix them,” says Makary, who’s a surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health “We are so highly esteemed by the public, I think we have a tough time saying openly – ‘I had a near miss: I nearly harmed somebody.”

Makary says that’s just one reason why it’s so hard for patients to figure out how to dodge the health care bullet – by being informed. He wants to change that.

“It’s not going to be the government that fixes the health care problem,” he says. “It’s going to be the patients.”

Listen to the complete story above and join the conversation below.

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Filed under: Health • Science
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Bo Lane Holland

    Wondered if when he talks about rating hospitals he also takes into consideration that some of the big hospitals are also the places where people from smaller local hospitals send their sickest and dying patients for more specialized care thus lessening their own exposure when the patient has serious complications or dies. Fair rating would evaluate incoming patients for prognosis and then calibrate the outcome to the incoming data.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Libby Lewis

      That's a good point. Marty Makary does write about the importance of adjusting data to reflect the degree of medical complications among patients whose cases make up the data – so that any comparison between hospitals is fair.

      September 21, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |