SAAPHI Black History Month Spotlight: Dr. Otis Brawley

1 Feb

Throughout the year I will be highlighting African American leaders who have made or are making their mark with exceptional work in health and the elimination of health disparities. It only felt right to use today, the first of February, to kick off this mission and help jump start Black History Month 2012.

Dr. Otis Brawley is the Chief Medical Officer and executive vice president of the American Cancer Society, the nation’s largest voluntary health organization. In addition to promoting cancer prevention, early detection, and quality treatment, one of Dr. Brawley’s key focuses is eliminating disparities in access to quality cancer care.

In his new book, How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being  Sick in America, Dr. Brawley examines how disparities in cancer treatment are impacted by both the over treatment of financially competent patients and the inadequate treatment of poor and uninsured individuals from underserved communities.

As a key leader in cancer research, Dr. Brawley is not afraid of speaking out about the dangers of over testing patients. He emphasizes that too many patients get a “wallet biopsy” that determines what kind of care they receive. He also uses stories of personal experience in medicine to admonish patients about the dangers of seeking unproven treatments.

This book is relevant to medicine and it is certainly relevant to public health. Given the current climate of our health industry and consistent increase in health care costs, How We Do Harm sheds insight on how we can limit over-utilization of costly procedures and increase focus to eliminating disparities in cancer treatment.

For more on Dr. Otis Brawley and his work:


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