Medicine: A two-sided coin

By Melissa Martin

We’ve all heard or read stories about doctors and hospitals— heroic stories and horrific stories. Patients that were helped—patients that were harmed. And most of us probably know people that lived and people that died from their healthcare experiences: family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, acquaintances.

On Medicine Today: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly is a 2014 book by Dr. Herbert Red, M.D. He recollects about the past and discusses the future concerning healthcare and the role of doctors.

The Upside of Medicine

Dr. Jerome Adams, M.D. is the 20th Surgeon General of the United States. “As the Nation’s Doctor, the U.S. Surgeon General is focused on improving the country’s health,” according to

“13 Amazing Medical Breakthroughs of 2018” is an article by Jessica Migala in Reader’s Digest. She reported on the following: a vaccine on the way for Zika; a new treatment for stoke; a shot prevention for migraine. Visit to read the other 10.

U.S. News & World Report ranks St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as the number 1 pediatric cancer hospital, according to a 2017 article. The publication compared 5,000 medical centers nationwide in 25 specialties, procedures and conditions.

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Patch Adams, M.D. at a retreat in West Virginia. He is best known for his work as a medical doctor and a clown, but he is also a social activist who has devoted over 40 years of his life to changing America’s healthcare system. The 1998 film Patch Adams (played by Robin Williams) was based on Adams’ life and views on medicine. “The Gesundheit Institute, a non-profit healthcare organization, is a project in holistic medical care based on the belief that one cannot separate the health of the individual from the health of the family, the community, the society, and the world. Our mission is to reframe and reclaim the concept of ‘hospital’,” according to his website at

At age 32, Dr. Ben Carson, M.D. became the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. In 1987, he gained world-wide recognition as the principal surgeon in the 22-hour separation of the Binder conjoined twins from Germany.

“Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.”—Hippocrates

The Downside of Hospitals

In 1994, Dr. Lucian Leape, adjunct professor of health policy at Harvard University, published the famous “To Err Is Human” report, which brought medical error to the attention of the public.

“50 Secrets Hospitals Don’t Want to Tell You (But Every Patient Should Know)” is

an article by Michelle Crouch in Reader’s Digest. I selected five: Ask for bleach and wipes and sanitize everything in your room. Nurses are overwhelmed with too many patients. Hospitals side with doctors. Specialists quietly pad your bill. Administrators make big bucks. Visit to read the other 45.

Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care is a book by Dr. Marty Makary, M.D. He calls for “outcomes data” on everything from how many knee-replacement patients walk without a limp to how many prostatectomy patients become incontinent. Without information how can a patient avoid being one of the 100,000 patients killed or 9 million harmed every year in the United States because of medical mistakes?

The Downside of Doctors

“Doctors Tell All—and It’s Bad” is a 2014 article in The Atlantic by Meghan O’Rourke. After reviewing several books by doctors, she writes “A crop of books by disillusioned physicians reveals a corrosive doctor-patient relationship at the heart of our health-care crisis.”

“50 Secrets Surgeons Won’t Tell You” by Michelle Crouch is an article in Reader’s Digest. Crouch provided information from several books and articles written by surgeons, physicians, nurses, and medical professionals. I selected five: To know which doctor is good, ask hospital employees. Ask about their complication rate. Some surgeons won’t mention procedures they don’t know how to do. Go to your preoperative appointment with a family member. Mistakes are probably more common than you would think. Visit to read the other 45.

“Developments in medical technology have long been confined to procedural or pharmaceutical advances, while neglecting a most basic and essential component of medicine: patient information management.”—John Doolittle

Yes, medicine is a two-sided coin. Which side do you want to be on?

By Melissa Martin

Reach:Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County. Contact her at

Reach:Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County. Contact her at