A Bitter Pill

Dr. John Sloan Book: A Bitter PillA Bitter Pill is an investigation into why the health care system does not work for old people who are in fragile health and what we can do about it.

“Medical treatment of elderly people is not working. Worse, it is often harmful”, says author Dr. John Sloan, a family physician who has worked primarily with the elderly for more than twenty years. In A Bitter Pill, he examines why medical treatment—from modern medicine’s one-size-fits-all prevention strategy to hospital stays that don’t benefit anyone—is failing them and identifies solutions to the problem.

In clear, accessible language, Dr. Sloan argues that we must understand what people in poor health at the end of their lives really need: comfort, dignity, and quality of life. He also argues that caregivers, sons, daughters, nurses, doctors, and social workers—all of us—must assume responsibility for what happens to the elderly and give these loved ones the kind of care we hope, one day, someone will give us.”

You can purchase A Bitter Pill here.

Download a free sample chapter: ‘A Bitter Pill – Chapter 2- Pseudoscience‘. The chapter is about the view of science that underlies modern medicine, and why some of the assumptions medicine makes can cause problems for people, such as the elderly:

Epidemiology in medicine is about people and is based on the assumption that people are similar. For example, we all have a liver, blood that circulates, a brain, weight never greater than thirteen hundred pounds. But trouble arises when we assume we all have similar characteristics that not everybody actually has—intact memory, ability to move around the environment effortlessly, liver and kidney function close to some norm, and willingness to behave according to certain rules, for example. An assumption of similarity is necessary for most science and works perfectly when you are dealing with electrons, molecules of potassium, or volumes of a pure gas such as helium. The more complicated the things being studied, the less similar they tend to be. Countries, banks, marriages, Labrador retrievers, and people are all potentially pretty complicated. Epidemiology is fine as long as it is talking about something that is the same for all individuals, whether they are Inuit, infant, disabled, demented, angry, vegetarian, or sick in the hospital. Otherwise, look out.