Snowball in a Blizzard: A Physician’s Notes on Uncertainty in Medicine
Snowball in A Blizzard is named for an expression that has been used in mammography to describe the difficulty in arriving at a definite conclusion based on what often appears in the test result. Dr. Steven Hatch provides detailed examples of uncertainty within various specialties.
The book is written in a style that lay readers can follow, even though Dr. Hatch necessarily includes statistics, citations, quotes from studies, and other medical literature. His claims are well-supported. Lest I am making the book sound dry and lifeless, rest assured he occasionally peppers his writing with wry humor where appropriate, and succeeds in making the situations relatable and interesting.
One of the most interesting aspects of the book explores the evolution of over-diagnosis and overtreatment of certain diseases. His careful explanations of clinical trials and the protocols required go a long way in helping the reader inject some independent thinking when presented the usual media sound bites concerning some new miracle cure or wonder drug.
Dr. Hatch provides valuable insight into the questions we laypersons should be asking. It is worth taking the time to read and carefully understand his rational and balanced message.
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