South Island MSA Reads…”If I Betray These Words: Moral Injury in Medicine and Why It’s So Hard for Clinicians to Put Patients First” by Dr. Wendy Dean

Looking for a good book? Here’s one! It’s available for you to borrow from our South Island MSA Lending Library, located in the Doctors’ Lounges at RJH and VGH.

From Goodreads:

Through stories and solutions, leading physicians tackle the conundrum of how best to care for patients while being thwarted by the business side of healthcare

Moves “away from calling doctors’ difficulties ‘burnout’ — thus blaming doctors — to ‘moral injury’ — like soldiers floundering under unjust orders. A brilliant expansive book.” — Samuel Shem, Professor in Medicine at NYU Medical School, author of The House of God and Man’s 4th Best Hospital

“Wendy Dean diagnoses the dangerous state of our healthcare system, illustrating the thumbscrews applied to medical professionals by their corporate overlords… Required reading for all stakeholders in healthcare.” — Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, author of When We Do Harm; A Doctor Confronts Medical Error

Offering examples of how to make medicine better for the healers and those they serve, If I Betray These Words profiles clinicians across the country who are tough, resourceful, and resilient, but feel trapped between the patient-first values of their Hippocratic oath and the business imperatives of a broken healthcare system.

Doctors face real risks when they stand up for their patients and their oath; they may lose their license, their livelihood, and for some, even their lives.

There’s a growing sense, referred to as moral injury, that doctors have their hands tied – they know what patients need but can’t get it for them because of constraints imposed by healthcare systems run like big businesses.

Workforce distress in healthcare—moral injury—was a crisis long before the COVID-19 pandemic, but COVID highlighted the vulnerabilities in our healthcare systems and made it impossible to ignore the distress, with 1 in 5 American healthcare workers leaving the profession since 2020, and up to 47% of U.S. healthcare workers now planning to leave their positions by 2025.

If I Betray These Words confronts the threat and broken promises of moral injury – what it is; where it comes from; how it manifests; and who’s fighting back against it. We need better healthcare—for patients and for the workforce. It’s time to act.

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