Hospital Confidential?
September 1, 2013 7:26 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a book like Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential that can explain to me the politics between workers in a hospital setting and how it affects decision making.

I've recently had a lot of dealings with hospitals lately. I find these places very interesting from a sociological/interoffice politics perspective. I'd like to find something that can enlighten me, basically, as to who hates who and why, from the top to the bottom of the building.

The ideal tone would be both compassionate (for the staff in difficult positions) while still maintaining a sharp critical eye. Something a bit less 'pop' than Bourdain would be appreciated as well, this is just the nearest thing I can think of to what I want.

Ooooh, something that explains the role of insurance companies in all of this mess would be great!
posted by Hennimore to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Not a single book, but look through the titles in this series on the "culture and politics of health care work." I've read a lot of them, and many are from the perspective of staff and patients. I would look at Code Green (by Weinberg) and Life Support, but others may interest you, too. For the question of insurance companies, try Differential Diagnoses (by Dutton) and also Overtreated by Shannon Brownlee (not in that series).
posted by cushie at 7:36 PM on September 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

A bit outdated, maybe, and not all of it is accurate (of course not!) but check out The House of God.
What makes “The House of God” singularly compelling is its brutally honest portrayal of the absurd tragedies and occasional triumphs of hospital life; the once-common abuse of young physicians by their superiors; and the anger and frustration these interns directed at themselves and patients.
posted by un petit cadeau at 7:38 PM on September 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Not sure if it quite fits what you're looking for (more of a specific focus on doctors and decisions directly affecting patients then on general hospital politics and insurance) but Atul Gawande's Complications might interest you. Another book in a similar vein is White Coat, Black Hat by Carl Elliot, which explores the links between medicine, the pharmaceutical industry, and insurance companies.

If you're up for podcasts at all, Planet Money has quite a few episodes on the economics of medicine/medical insurance. There are too many to link individually, but shouldn't be too hard to find on the website or on iTunes. Looking forward to seeing all the other suggestions people give here too!
posted by augustimagination at 7:44 PM on September 1, 2013

Best answer: I forgot my link! This is the series, and I third the suggestion for Hospital by Julie Salamon.
posted by cushie at 9:28 PM on September 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I came here to suggest Complications by Atul Gawande. I see someone else got to it first, but it's so damn good I'm answering anyway. Seriously, check it out!
posted by 168 at 7:56 AM on September 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I came here to suggest Complications by Atul Gawande. I see someone else got to it first, but it's so damn good I'm answering anyway. Seriously, check it out!

This book is seriously outstanding and can't be recommended enough.
posted by sweetkid at 8:46 AM on September 2, 2013

Another nod for "The House Of God", even though it is 1) a novel and b) kind of dated now. Obviously written by someone who had those experiences in his internship/residency in a Boston-area mega-hospital in the '70s. The 1980s TV series "St. Elsewhere" is VERY loosely based on this book, and there is also a direct film adaptation of it starring Tim Matheson and Charles Haid (who was Andy Renko in "Hill Street Blues").
posted by briank at 9:24 AM on September 2, 2013

To an extent some of this is in the spirit catches you and you fall down. Worth the read regardless.
posted by sully75 at 9:52 AM on September 2, 2013

cushie's second post above should also be marked as best answer, IMHO. I'm going through it now and it's great.
posted by intermod at 7:35 PM on September 2, 2013

I came in to say House of God, as well.
posted by Pax at 5:25 AM on September 3, 2013

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