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Chuck Whitlock

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : St. Martin's Press

Published : 2003

Copyright : Chuck Whitlock 2003

ISBN-10 : PB 0-312-30602-4
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-312-30602-1

Publisher's Write-Up

Where their health is concerned, Americans want answers. Too often, what they get are false promises from medical "professionals" more intent on lightening their patients' wallets than helping to shave off those stubborn five pounds. These medical scam artists run from the petty to the downright dangerous, and their schemes can leave you poorer but wiser, hospitalised, or much worse...

Now journalist Chuck Whitlock tackles the seedy world of medical scams, exposing everything from bogus pills that claim to relieve symptoms of drunkenness, to questionable weight-loss programs, to bizarre plastic surgery procedures.

Called "the nation's leading scambuster" by Oprah Winfrey, Chuck Whitlock tackles treacherous HMOs, doctors, and charlatans. Then he shows the reader how to avoid falling victim to medical scams.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Paul Lappen (171103) Rating (9/10)

Review by Paul Lappen
Rating 9/10
This book looks at the surprisingly large number of ways that medical con men separate us from our money when we are at our most vulnerable. These "scientifically proven", but ultimately worthless, cures and therapies cost Americans billions of dollars each year.

Snake oil salesmen have been selling all sorts of "cures" for many, many years, even up to the present. HMOs get their share of criticism. More than once, the author, an investigative reporter, has set up a table in a local shopping mall selling some very fake medical treatment. Wearing a white coat and with a stethoscope around his neck, people are more than happy to pay. He gives back their money when he tells them his real identity.

When a hospital decides that a doctor is really incompetent, the tendency is to let the doctor leave quietly rather than tell the state medical authorities (fearing the bad publicity). The same state authorities are also less than diligent in disciplining bad doctors (fearing the same bad publicity). For those doctors who know the system, Medicare and Medicaid fraud can represent a huge windfall.

Did you know that a license to practice plastic surgery is not required to do procedures like liposuction? It's legal to advertise as a plastic surgeon (for instance) with your only training being a weekend seminar. Fraud can happen even in dentist's offices and in the offices of "respected" doctors. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have had some success in closing down fraud operations, but in these days of the Internet, it's easier than ever to move somewhere else, and resume selling, For instance, diet pills without exercise.

There are two caveats to this book. The first is that the author makes it clear that he does not think much of "alternative" medicine. The second is that the first chapter, the story of a really incompetent doctor, is pretty graphic and hard to read. Stick with it.

The author's recommendations can best be reduced to Don't Be Afraid To Ask Questions. Ask the state medical board if the doctor is licensed in your state. Ask the doctor at what hospital(s) do they have privileges; call the hospital to be sure. Ask the Better Business Bureau about the doctor. If the doctor asks for money upfront, or asks you to sign a confidentiality agreement, or says that his treatment is being "suppressed" by the medical establishment, run, do not walk, out of that office. Also run away if the doctor says that an incurable disease is now curable with this treatment.

Despite the caveats, this book is a keeper. Read it before having to make use of the medical profession. It's better to be initiated into medical realities this way than the hard way. It's well worth the reader's time.
Paul Lappen (17th November 2003)

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