In 2007, the book, Navigating The Medical Maze, by cardiologist, Dr. Steven L. Brown, was published. Popular at the time, it has faded in the public consciousness, a fate suffered by many fine books.
Navigating The Medical Maze must be revitalized and everyone of us in this community need to purchase and read it. Why? Let me ask a couple of questions to get the answer:
- Do you know how to select a doctor who is right for you?
- Do you know why a medical doctor is your best source for health and well-being advice?
- Do you know why that “natural” food or vitamin you are putting into your body can kill you, or, at the very least, harm your health?
Navigating The Medical Maze first gives a graphic medical history lesson. What were the differences between medical practice five hundred years ago and five thousand years ago? None. In fifty centuries, no meaningful progress was made. Why? Because physicians relied on the reasoned opinion of others.
Then, there was that great shift in knowledge as the Renaissance started when scientists questioned the dogma of Aristotle and examined how Aristotle’s teaching compared to what they could observe in nature. They began to use observation instead of relying on reasoned opinion. The scientific method was created.
Today, the modern view is that scientific truth is determined by careful, precise observation in the context of experimentation and testing to affirm or refute the validity of a treatment or drug. Precise observations form a foundation on which additional observations are made. The fundamental principle is that reason is inferior to observation…if your reason says one thing and the experiment says something else, the experiment is right and you are wrong.
The author points out that medical training follows the path of critical thinking and the scientific method. Dr. Brown gives the reader a feeling insight to the boot camp training of the physician. To become a medical doctor, it takes seven to fourteen years of basic training after acquiring an initial four-year college bachelor degree.
He is brutally honest in his assessment of the type of individuals this intense teaching and training produces:
- Good traits: responsibility, self-sacrifice, family sacrifice, the ethic of hard work, the camaraderie with other physicians, and the critical medical evaluation of each patient.
- Negative traits: survival mentality, dumping work on others, false pride, or emotional coldness.
Throughout the book, you will find categories, though not formally designated, of dangerous thinking, medical bleeps, and wisdom gems. The following is a small example:
- “Often, people do not follow my advice because they overstate the risks of taking their medicine and underestimate the risks of not taking them.”
- The pill recommended by my friend will help me because my friend said it helped him/her.
- Prescription drugs have more side effects than untested alternative medicines or supplements.
- Supplements that say”natural” can’t hurt me.
- All medicines, natural and alternative, are dangerous. They should be avoided, but not at all costs. They should be avoided unless the benefits exceed the risks.
- Medical science distinguishes between the true effects of a treatment and the imagined effect by randomly dividing a group of people into two groups; one receives the treatment being tested; the other a fake treatment. Then certain procedures are used to remove bias from any direction.
- Vitamins are natural substances that have been shown to be necessary in small quantities for normal body function, but in excessive doses can be harmful. Potent supplements often have risks of not being scientifically tested, regulated in their manufacture, and excessive doses can be harmful.
- The American paradigm is “more is better.” Not so with supplements, as tests have shown in taking too many antioxidants, vitamin A, or the uselessness of echinacea, saw palmetto, or the harmful effects of such naturals as ephedra or L-tryptophan.
There is far more to read and learn in Navigating The Medical Maze by Midland’s own Dr. Steven L. Brown. If you’re ever going to need a doctor, or if you have a health problem— and we all either have or will–this is a must-read from an author who leaves no stone unturned and tells the good with the bad. Dr. Brown has both a medical degree and a PhD from Columbia University. His doctorate is in molecular biology, and he has published in the New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of Immunology, and others. He can be contacted at www.drstevenbrown.org where his book can be purchased and further health articles accessed. Navigating the Medical Maze is also available on Amazon.com. If you have treatment, medical, or health questions, for starters, he recommends:
Finally, I took a moment to interview Dina McCormick, RN, whom Dr. Brown calls his right hand. I asked her how long she had been his nurse. She laughed and said, “Sixteen years. We decided it was going to work, after all.” I asked her what it was like working with him. The following were the key words: “high expectations,” “conscious of time,” “effective communication,” “timeliness,” “excellent listener,” “speaks peer to peer, not intimidating.” You don’t have to talk to Dina very long to know she has the same qualities.