Hey, doctors make mistakes, too. In fact, they make them all the time. In this book, husband-and-wife health columnists Joe and Teresa Graedon reveal just how flub-prone physicians can be. “The death toll from health care screwups adds up to at least 500,000 Americans annually,” the Graedons assert. The pages are thick with freaky anecdotes: One patient suffers permanent brain damage after an anesthesiologist causes him to nearly suffocate. Joe Graedon kicks off the book with a personal horror story, describing how his mother died after being injected with an inappropriate medication, which caused her to suffer muscle spasms. According to the Graedons, the best solution is to look out for yourself: Be vigilant, expect that mistakes will happen, ask questions. “Even though you may not know how to pronounce the drug names or determine the correct dose yourself, just asking the nurse, pharmacist, or physician to verify that all is right can help catch some errors,” they write. Most important, know that it’s okay to say no. “It’s a little like a monkey wrench in the machinery of the hospital,” the Graedons write. “If you demand an explanation from an attending physician, you will eventually get one. Then the machinery can start working again.”
The leaves are turning and the weather is getting chilly, which means that it’s the season to indulge in hot, spiced beverages. But, before you order that that sprinkle-topped and sugar-heavy peppermint latte, consider a more healthful alternative. In the “Healing Foods” section of its November issue, Vegetarian Times highlights blackstrap molasses, the brown goo that’s left over after sugar crystals have been extracted from sugar cane. As with many gross-sounding foods, it’s good for you, containing more antioxidants that almost any other sweetener. The magazine also offers a recipe for gingersnap latte syrup — made from sugar, ginger, cinnamon, ground nutmeg and, of course, blackstrap molasses — that can flavor up, and nutritionally enrich, a cup of coffee.