Selling Sickness 2013

dr. leana wen. remember that name!

Dr. Leana Sheryle Wen is all of 30 years old, but she is a speed demon of accomplishment and, if I may say, a beacon of light in our new selling sickness movement. Her two most recent contributions, both innovative, both important, come from quite different areas — improving patient care and reducing conflicts of interest.

First, Dr. Wen, together with Boston ER physician colleague Dr. Joshua Kosovsky, co-authored a most useful 2012 book, “When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests,” Their book came out too late to be included in our BOOKTIVISM project but it would have been a perfect fit. This is a book for everyone who wants to learn how to make better diagnoses and streamline costs, and isn’t that all of us?

Leana and Josh offer numerous riveting case examples of missed or wrong diagnoses made because doctors, ordering unnecessary tests and missing important clues, were following “algorithms” or “cookie-cutter pathways” AND also (and this is important) because patients didn’t participate in or speak up during their medical history and physical exam consultations.

The message of this book is that it takes two to get it right or wrong and both providers and patients can learn from these stories. I (LT) will be giving copies to friends.

Second, acknowledging that medical care exists in a larger context than just a dyad in the consulting room, Leana is creating a “Who’s My Doctor” transparency campaign dedicated to disclosures by doctors of their educational background, philosophy of practice, personal life and hobbies (optional), and financial and non-financial conflicts of interest. She introduced her campaign in a Huffington Post blog (our heroine is no stranger to social media) and has been signing up colleagues all autumn.

Dr. Wen inspires me with her ideas and her professional integrity.

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