Nortin Hadler, whose name is followed by M.D. and 14 more initials on book jackets, is a professor of medicine and microbiology/immunology at UNC as well as an attending rheumatologist. No doubt he's made a lot of spot-on diagnoses in his distinguished career, but his best diagnosis is of the American health care system. Sure, plenty of other doctors have rounded on this patient, finding everything from chronic obstructed access disorder to parasitic insurance-industry infestation. They're all correct, but they're often addressing symptoms. Hadler delves further to the root causes: He calls out every guilty party—doctors, researchers, regulators, hospitals, insurance companies, big pharma (there's plenty of blame to go around)—in a thoroughly corrupted system that won't be cured by piecemeal fixes.
His new book, The Citizen Patient, argues that the only way for patients to get the care they need—and not more—from a system where every party is invested in the status quo is to educate and advocate for themselves. He repeats many of the points he's made in his previous books, Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America and The Last Well Person: How to Stay Well Despite the Health-Care System. But in a just world, his recurring pet phrases—such as "Type II medical malpractice" ("Doing the unnecessary to a patient, even if the unnecessary is done well") and "small effectology" (the drug industry's relentless pursuit of new drugs to market, no matter how minor the benefit)—would be the terms of any serious discussion on reforming health care.
Hadler is a graceful writer, but he's an even better speaker, so expect a full house. Patient, educate thyself. —Marc Maximov