The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 5, 2013

Danville native makes case for medical transparency

By Karen Blackledge
The Danville News

— DANVILLE — Dr. Marty Makary believes in transparency in health care.

The Danville native wrote a book “Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You And How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care,” which came out a couple of months ago. It is a New York Times bestseller that opened one step above Steve Jobs’ book, he said.

“It did very well with nice reviews by the Wall Street Journal,” he said. The book, published by Bloomsbury Press, was awarded Library Journal Book of the Year for 2012. It is available on Amazon and from Barnes & Noble bookstores.

A surgeon and researcher at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Makary mentions Geisinger Medical Center in the book for its transparency and innovations in health care quality.

The Washington, D.C., area resident frequently serves as a guest medical commentator for CNN and Fox News.

Since writing the book, he said, “My media presence profile has increased especially over the last year.”

He has written feature articles for Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal and has also written for The New England Journal of Medicine.

Besides transparency in health care, he writes about health care reform, quality and safety in health care and patient empowerment.

He said he also advocates on behalf of doctors.

“Doctors are getting crushed out there. Medicare payments are declining. Overhead is increasing. Doctors are expected to see more patients with the same resources,” he said.

Makary spoke by phone from an airport after speaking at North Mississippi Medical Center — considered to be one of the best hospitals in the country.

He said he has a speaking engagement about every two weeks somewhere in the country.

“I have been picked up by the Washington Speakers Bureau. Supposedly it is the hardest to get into,” he said.

He said Johns Hopkins is a leader in patient safety and is taking steps to become more transparent.

“I received a tremendous amount of support from Johns Hopkins” for the book, he said

Johns Hopkins purchased his book in bulk to give away. He said his books were handed out the week of Jan. 21 during a conference for patients, friends and donors of the university in Palm Beach, Fla.

“One of the reasons I wrote about transparency is about the revolution taking place in health care. There are a lot of implications for patients and their choosing of their own medical care. It’s a way for them to speak up about issues. Many doctors and groups are trying to educate the public about issues and patient safety,” he said.

Patients should be more informed, more involved and should choose wisely. “They should get a second opinion and recognize over-treatment,” he said.

It is impossible for health care reforms, which take effect in 2014, to be perfect, Makary said,

“There are some good provisions in the Affordable Care Act and some things that need further reformed,” he said.

Makary’s parents, Dr. Adel and Nadia, live in Danville. His father retired a few months ago as chief of hematology at Geisinger Medical Center.

Makary visits his parents at least once a year. “I still have close friends in Danville and stay in touch with them and usually see them when I visit,” he said.

“I love Danville. I love the high school and the school system I was a part of,” he said.

“I feel blessed to speak up on behalf of doctors and changes in health care. I am very thankful for the teachers in the Danville school system.”

A 1989 Danville High School graduate, Makary graduated from Bucknell University and went on to Thomas Jefferson Medical School. He also has a master’s degree in public health from the Harvard School of Public Health.

He completed a surgical residency at Georgetown University Hospital and a subspecialty in pancreas surgery at Johns Hopkins. He has been a Johns Hopkins faculty member for nine years.

Makary practices laparoscopic surgical oncology and serves as director of the Johns Hopkins Pancreas Islet Transplantation Center. He serves as an associate professor of health policy in the School of Public Health.

He has held leadership roles at the United National World Health Organization, where a surgery checklist was adopted and expanded to become the WHO surgery checklist. He was lead author of original publications on the surgery checklist that he and Dr. Peter Pronovost, his research partner of nine years, adapted. Makary said Pronovost is a national authority on patient safety.

The author of more than 150 publications and a leading textbook on surgery, Makary has received grants to study surgical outcomes and complications. He serves on the leadership council of the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program.