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It's Not Brain Surgery

Damn! While trying to remove the funny bone from the two-dimensional, red, bulbous-nosed patient on the table, my tweezers touched the metallic sides of his body and triggered the buzzer. Admittedly, I am not a real doctor; fortunately, Hasbro’s Operation is just a game.

Of course, surgery is a very real ordeal for millions of Americans, yet the procedures can often seem as amateurish as if friends and family were performing these operations. According to USA Today “up to 6,000 patients a year leave U.S. operating rooms with surgical sponges, forceps and other surgical tools mistakenly left inside them. The error is usually not detected until the patient develops a life-threatening infection.” Perhaps surgeons need those buzzers, too. And a whole lot more.

In Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care, Dr. Marty Makary — who collaborated with Atul Gawande to craft the titular checklist of the latter’s Checklist Manifesto — describes the multitude of sins within the medical industry that are due in large part to laziness, hubris and… a lack of accountability. It’s enough to make readers stay healthy simply by willing it so. Beyond detailing the routine failings of our current healthcare system, Dr. Makary also offers significant advice as to how patients can take better care of themselves by becoming more proactive clients. Thankfully, there is hope within the horror; many hospitals are implementing strategies to improve the services they offer. Still, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so pick up a copy of Unaccountable and heal thyself.

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