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Critical Decisions

Critical Decisions: How You and Your Doctor Can Make the Right Medical Choices Together

Peter Ubel

Critical Decisions is the most important book on the patient-doctor relationship to date.

We’ve all been there, sitting uncomfortably in a paper gown as a doctor impassively describes our prognosis. Sometimes it’s simple and treatable. Other times we get news we can’t fathom, and then are faced with decisions that are literally life and death.

How do we decide? What are our best medical choices? What will give us the best quality of life?

In this revolutionary book, practicing physician, behavioural scientist, and bioethicist Peter Ubel reveals how hidden dynamics in the doctor–patient relationship keep us, and our loved ones, from making the best medical choices. From doctors who struggle to explain, to patients who fail to properly listen, countless factors alter the course of our care, causing things to go seriously awry. 

Dr Ubel has been on both ends of the stethoscope and Critical Decisions will forever change the way we communicate at a time where thoughtful decision-making matters the most.

Listen to this brilliant interview with Kim Hill at Radio NZ.

Peter Ubel
About the Author

Peter Ubel is a physician and behavioural scientist at Duke University. An internationally renowned writer and researcher, he is the author of three books: Pricing Life, You’re Stronger Than You Think, and Free Market Madness. He writes for numerous science publications as well as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Psychology Today and ...

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Text publication date:
26 September 2012
AU Price:
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Praise for Peter Ubel
andCritical Decisions

‘This is an interesting, insightful and thoughtful book. It is intriguing. It is written for patients but I can’t help but feel it’s doctors he really wants as readers…His writing style is engaging and entertaining…I have made a start at changing the way I consult following reading this book. I recommend you read it too.’

‘The doctor’s office is the worst place to make a mistake. As a physician and a social scientist, Peter Ubel is unparalleled in his understanding of some of the most important decisions we are all facing, or will face.' 

‘Ubel has been caring for very sick patients and thinking deeply about very difficult problems for quite a while. And so this man, this physician, knows what he is talking about. And it is wonderful to witness the evolution in his own thinking and practice, so eloquently described both in anecdotes about real patients and in experiments that he has so cleverly constructed in his lab. Ubel is widely admired for his soft-spoken, sympathetic style of doctoring, and also for his innovative research. His book offers a valuable and engaging new synthesis of where we are in the strange and difficult world of doctors and patients facing serious illness.' 

‘Peter Ubel is a top notch scientist and writer. His ideas are important, his stye is accesible (with the right balance of humour and compassion) and his topic is timely. We need someone like Peter, no—we need Peter—to help us sort out how patients and their doctors can better work together to make these important decisions.' 

‘The time is right for a book exploring the moral and psychological “mess” that often characterises the doctor/patient relationship. And Peter Ubel has a unique perspective on how to fix this mess. This book could easily become required reading in medical schools. But patients (and aren’t all of us potential patients?) need to read this book too. Required reading in waiting rooms? We can hope.' 

‘Packed with human drama, this is a well-told “how to” with universal relevance.’