Book Review: How Doctors Think-Jerome Groopman, MD

April 3, 2007

GroopmanCommentary By David Shapiro, MD, Former Chief of Allergy and Immunology, Winthrop University Medical Center and New York Ear Infirmary Hospital, Attending Physician OPD Allergy and Immunology, New York Hospital (and most importantly, father of Neil Shapiro, MD)

I highly recommend a new book that has become an instant bestseller, How Doctors Think published two weeks ago by Houghton Mifflin. The author, Dr. Jerome Groopman, is Professor of Medicine (Oncology and Immunology) at Harvard School of Medicine and Chief of Experimental Medicine at the Beth Israel/Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Groopman serves on many scientific boards, has published more than 150 articles and has done extensive research in AIDS, cancer and neurobiology.

Besides being a nationally renown physician, Dr. Groopman has written three best selling books including The Measure of our Days, Second Opinions and The Anatomy of Hope . He is a staff writer at the New Yorker and written many essays dealing with medicine. Dr. Groopman is the winner of the 2006 Victor Cohn prize for excellence in medical reporting for stories that combine sensitivity to patients’ concerns with a thoughtful analysis of issues and controversies in medicine. For more information about Dr. Groopman, go to his web site:

Dr. Groopman’s new book is a fascinating read. An excerpt ran in the New Yorker magazine. In fact, any of his multiple essays in the New Yorker are well worth reading.

As stated in the book’s description, “Groopman draws on a wealth of research, extensive interviews with some of the country’s best doctors and his own experiences as a doctor and as a patient. He has learned many of the lessons of the book the hard way from his own mistakes and from errors his doctors made in treating his own debilitating problems. How Doctors Think reveals a profound new view of twenty first century medical practice giving doctors and patients the vital information they need to make better judgments together.”

The book is the first to describe in detail the warning signs of erroneous medical thinking and teaches doctors how to listen, avoid snap judgments and communicate effectively with their patients. The book offers patients specific questions to ask their doctors helping them to arrive at an accurate diagnosis and thereby improve their care. By sharing his own mistakes, Dr. Groopman levels the playing field and readers will appreciate his compassionate style. Of course everyone wants a doctor who is empathetic and a mensch. This book is a must read for all physicians, medical students, residents and patients.

Publishers Weekly ran a boxed signature review by our own Dr. Perri Klass, Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics at NYU. I certainly agree with her when she says, “I wish I had read this book when I was in medical school, and I’m glad I’ve read it now.” (see review in entirety).