“Prepare to Defend Yourself: How to Navigate the Healthcare System and Escape with Your Life,” by Matthew Minson, MD, Texas A&M University Press, 232 pages, $23.


Navigating the health care system has been a challenge over the last few decades. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (yes, it is really called that) promises to make things even more challenging.

So what is a body to do? It would be for someone who knows the scoop help you through the labyrinth. Someone who knows both sides of the system — as health care professional and as patient.

Enter Dr. Matthew Minson. His new book, “Prepare to Defend Yourself: How to Navigate the Healthcare System and Escape with Your Life,” is what the doctor ordered. A lighthearted look at a serious topic, it helps readers cope with the complexities of the modern American health care system.

Minson takes readers through the intricacies of today’s health care system. He walks you through the hospital-admitting process, introduces you to the various types of professionals encountered and explains the business end of health care.

Along the way, he discusses all aspects of the system. He spends a chapter on hospitals, explaining how to choose the right hospital for your needs. He has another chapter on ambulances that goes into detail on the services offered by different types of ambulances and why the one you use depends upon the needs of the moment.

He also goes over drugs and their impact on your health.

While his discussions are comprehensive, they are written in plain language. Readers do not need an advanced degree to follow Minson.

He also illustrates his points through personal example — as both doctor and patient. This includes a good dose of humor. The book contains cartoons drawn by the good doctor and self-deprecating stories.

While his humor keeps things light, his book is never superficial. His advice on how to prepare for a trip to the hospital will interest anyone going in for elective surgery. He tells what to expect after the operation in the hospital and at home.

Similarly, his advice on choosing hospitals and doctors is both sensible and valuable. He also reviews the top 10 medical mistakes, and what you can do to prevent them from happening to you.

He closes with predictions on future trends in health care — positive and negative.

“Prepare to Defend Yourself” is a book worth reading by anyone interacting with the health care system, whether going in for a routine checkup or intensive care surgery. Get it. You will not regret having it.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.

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