I loved reading Ilana Yurkiewicz’s Fragmented: A Doctor’s Quest to Piece Together American Health Care, and I’m glad to have gotten to write about it for National Review.
The range of treatments that doctors can offer has gotten more and more advanced. Robotic suturing tools allow surgeons to conduct delicate surgery through minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures. CAR T-cell immunotherapy can be precisely tuned for individual cancers, teaching patients’ immune systems to kill their tumors. But when it comes to medical record-keeping and continuity of care, many doctors like Yurkiewicz find they’re operating in an era of oral history or as archaeologists.
In her practice, Yurkiewicz reconstructs a patient’s medical history as though she were piecing together potsherds at a dig site. She asks other doctors to mail her CD-ROMs of medical images (and then borrows a disc drive to be able to view them). She pores over pages of blurry, out-of-order faxed records. And often, she turns to the patient as her co-investigator, asking questions such as, “What did the testing show? Was it a loud machine where you lie flat, or did someone use a probe coated with cold gel?”