Our book, Listening for What Matters: Avoiding Contextual Errors in Health Care, published January 2016, is now available from Oxford University Press USA.
We argue that physicians are not all prepared to understand patients' individual life contexts and tailor their medical care to the patient. This problem is real, pervasive, costly, and not addressed by the American health care system or process of medical education. Using the results of hundreds of medical visits in which actors and real patients wore hidden recorders, the book give examples of crucial patient context that physicians failed to appreciate and the medical errors that can result from this failure. It tells the stories of patients whose care was compromised by these failures, and the research that revealed the magnitude of the problem. It explains how these errors can be minimized through changes in how doctors are trained, changes in how medicine is practiced and paid for, and ways for patients to assert their individual circumstances during visits.