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Matters of Life and Death: Risks vs. Benefits of Medical Care

Roger W. Evans, PhD
JAMA. 1985;254(6):835-836. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360060139050.
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This is an unusual book. The author, a physician, proclaims "this is a book for patients, not for doctors." If his advice is heeded, he will have done his own profession a disservice. This book should be read by doctors, as well as by patients.

The purpose of this book, explicitly stated by the author, is as follows: "To alert you to the risks and benefits of medical diagnosis and therapy." Indeed, throughout the book the author encourages the patient to carefully weigh the risks and benefits involved in health care provision. To assist in the making of informed decisions, the author urges us to identify an "ombudsdoctor," who is a physician serving as the advocate and representative of the patient in medical encounters. From the author's perspective, patients must take a more active role in their own care because "every doctor is frequently uncertain and frequently wrong. As a


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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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