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The Patient Paradox: Why Sexed Up Medicine is Bad for Your Health [Paperback]

Margaret McCartney
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Feb 2012
McCartney is diligent enough to dig deep into the evidence, brave enough to name names where necessary and lucid enough to capture a concept in a memorable sentence. Pulse

Welcome to the world of sexed-up medicine, where patients have been turned into customers, and clinics and waiting rooms are jammed with healthy people, lured in to have their blood pressure taken and cholesterol, smear test, bowel or breast screening done.

In the world of sexed-up medicine pharmaceutical companies gloss over research they don't like and charities often use dubious science and dodgy PR to 'raise awareness' of their disease, leaving a legacy of misinformation in their wake. Our obsession with screening swallows up the time of NHS staff and the money of healthy people who pay thousands to private companies for tests they don't need. Meanwhile, the truly sick are left to wrestle with disjointed services and confusing options.

Explaining the truth behind the screening statistics and investigating the evidence behind the hype, Margaret McCartney, an award-winning writer and doctor, argues that this patient paradox - too much testing of well people and not enough care for the sick - worsens health inequalities and drains professionalism, harming both those who need treatment and those who don't.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pinter & Martin Ltd.; 1 edition (28 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780660006
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780660004
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 13.7 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 69,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Margaret McCartney is a GP in Glasgow. She started writing for the press after being infuriated by an article in a newspaper which claimed the CT body screening was the way to stay well. Since then she has written for most UK newspapers, as well the British Medical Journal, other magazines such as Vogue and Prospect, and has had columns in the Guardian and the FT Weekend. She has won prizes from the Medical Journalists Association, the Healthwatch award, and from the European School of Oncology.
She has three children, a strong interest in evidence, professionalism, screening and risk. She blogs and tweets. The Patient Paradox is her first book.
http://www.margaretmccartney.com/blog

Product Description

About the Author

Margaret McCartney is a GP in Glasgow, and has three children. She started writing for the press after being infuriated by an article in a newspaper which claimed that CT body screening was the way to stay well. Since then she has written for most UK newspapers, as well as the British Medical Journal, other magazines such as Vogue and Prospect, and has had columns in the Guardian and the FT Weekend. She has won prizes from the Medical Journalists' Association, the Healthwatch award, and from the European School of Oncology.

She has a strong interest in evidence, professionalism, screening and risk. She blogs and tweets. The Patient Paradox is her first book.

margaretmccartney.com/blog


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By Helen
Format:Paperback
This is an excellent book. Using clear language, straightforward diagrams and plenty of examples, McCartney (who is also a practising GP) takes the mystery out of medical screening, reviews and statistics. Her analysis reveals some surprising and negative results, including overdiagnosis, further testing and anxiety, and increased costs. The arguments are persuasive and challenging, but ultimately positive: "Addressing inequalities is where the biggest gains in health are to me made, not our current model of taking well people and screening them into diagnoses they don't need and won't benefit from"

Accessible and easy to read, with a narrative grounded in personal experience backed up with well referenced, evidence based research, this fascinating book would appeal to anyone with an interest in healthcare, be it professional or personal.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Medicine, screening and risk - clearly explained 17 Mar 2012
Format:Paperback
This is a clearly written book, accessible to all giving an insight in to our current obsession with medical screening.

It gives the most readily understandable explanation that I have come across of relative versus actual risk of contracting serious medical conditions. It lays bare how statistics are manipulated and over-hyped to give a good story rather than to allow individuals to assess risks versus benefits and make a considered judgement, with their GP, of what might be the best course of action for them.

Margaret McCartney deserves a wide audience and I hope this book stirs the "worrried well" in to taking a more balanced approach to life.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By HannaH
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I suffer from NHS fatigue. I feel that rather than concentrating on the issue that I have attended the GP surgery for I seem to be bombarded with reminders for cervical screening and blood pressure monitoring. (my blood pressure is and has always been good). No doubt before long I will be pursued for breast examination, cholesterol testing, bowel cancer screening etc etc....... Well now that I have read this book I will feel confident and reassured to turn down these invitations. This book distinguishes between pre-symptom screening and for example going to the surgery if you discover a lump or have some other niggling symptom for a few weeks or more. The anxiety of all these tests is guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of even the most fit and healthy. My family and I, not to mention numerous friends have had nothing good, and arguably more harm come of this barrage of screening. For example, my fit and healthy 84 year old grandmother has recently had bowel surgery for a 'cancer' which she didn't know was there, had no symptoms for and now suffers the anxiety of constant hospital visits, the pain of surgery and the diabolical treatment of a hospital ward which still makes her upset every time she talks about it. As she said, she has had a good life and would more than likely have otherwise passed away without ever knowing that she had a problem. On the other hand, my mum had two years of horrendous near constant bleeding which the doctor claimed was the menopause and tried to push her out of the door with HRT. It turned out that despite never missing a smear test in her life she had advanced cervical caner and had to endure chemo and radio therapy. We have knowledge of three other women who have also had cervical cancer and their worrying symptoms ignored. Read more ›
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this if you care about your health 4 May 2012
Format:Paperback
There is a very strong history of breast cancer in my family. Nevertheless, when I'm offered regular screening mammograms in a couple of years time, I will probably refuse them. It's also unlikely that I will go for any more smear tests, despite the recent 'Jade Goody effect'.

Controversial?

Margaret McCartney's book separates the facts from the headlines, explains the encroaching position of government and pharmaceutical companies on our welfare, and explains how thousands of healthy people are being turned into patients. She looks at the influence of charity and celebrity, and emphasises the increasingly difficult position that our GPs are placed in today.
This is a fascinating, well-researched and easy to read book that should make you question how the NHS works, how it ought to work, and how you want it to work for you.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book once, if not twice! 24 April 2012
By Jude12
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ever known a healthy person who's become a 'patient' overnight? That's what can happen if we subscribe to the so-called "catch it early" mentality of mass screening which is costing the NHS a fortune: money which could be better spent helping those who really are sick. This book will give you the confidence to say no to those often arrogant screening 'invitations' which play down (or don't even mention) the negative aspects of such procedures, e.g. false positives, over-treatment.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unhealthy paradox 22 May 2012
By Jil
Format:Paperback
This is the book to read if you want to know what the hidden agenda is when you visit the doctor's surgery, and whether the screenings you are offered from NHS and private companies are really risk-free, beneficial or even necessary.

It is no surprise that the pharmaceutical industry has an unhealthy and powerful influence on clinical practice, but Margaret McCartney will shock you by revealing study results and parliamentary inquiry conclusions on just how controlling this heartless industry is.

The `inverse care law', the phenomenon of the most ill people having the least access to care, was first described by a Welsh GP nearly 40 years ago. Rather than adjusting the balance in favour of caring for the most needy, our healthcare system has perpetuated this law by focussing even more intensely upon the `worried well' who are made vulnerable by clever advertising then parted from their cash in return for screenings they don't need.

Margaret McCartney offers a lively and impassioned explanation of the hidden facts about screening for the illnesses we are told we should be most concerned about. She reveals facts about tests whose accuracy and value we take for granted, and how screenings are introduced by vote-seeking politicians rather than clinicians on the basis of hard evidence.

This is an important book...you'd have to be living in a bubble to not be exposed to the public 'fight' against cancer, cholesterol and other threats to wellbeing. The Patient Paradox encourages a closer look at the weapons used in this 'fight' and redefines terms like 'wellbeing' and 'risk'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars must read !
a must read for every health care professional

exposing myths and dangers in medicine.

a good read, thoroughly enjoyed it !
Published 2 months ago by Bazzerooni
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read.
This is a well written book, an easy to read for those interested in understanding the demise of modern medicine but pointing to a way forward.
Published 6 months ago by Ann and Graham Hamblin
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and excellent
I asked for this as a birthday present, and I wasn't disappointed.

As a long-time opponent of overweening screening and someone who prefers to avoid visits to the doctor... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Amika
5.0 out of 5 stars Debunking the target driven approach to medicine in the UK.
A well written and researched critique from a practicing G.P. of the recent phenomenon of the 'worried well' and the misuse of statistics and poor research to justify expensive,... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Scribblah
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
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Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars False promise and unfair lure
To some policymakers and to a large section of the public, screening people for diseases seems like a win-win proposition: if the test comes back positive, screening has "caught... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Sphex
4.0 out of 5 stars a worth-while read
The book is certainly an eye opener, but at some points slightly biased. Very informative throughout, so I would definitely recommend it
Published 15 months ago by Petya Ilieva
5.0 out of 5 stars Media frenzy
Having an overall interest in health, this book really helps put the political and big pharma stitch-up of health services into perspective. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Caz
5.0 out of 5 stars Eloquent, readable and well-referenced
I enjoyed Margaret's book. She explained complex topics such as screening, risk and the quality of evidence used in clinical trials. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Elektra
5.0 out of 5 stars patient paradox
This book made me think hard about how many screening scenarios we have in the UK. Serious money is used to complete these, sometimes, questionable tests. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Michketts
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