The Hippocratic Math

Journal of Legal Medicine, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 529-545, 2012

Seton Hall Public Law Research Paper No. 2012-01

18 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2012

Date Written: January 4, 2012


Not many policymakers or scholars can write with the authority of Gregg Bloche. Bloche is not only a law professor, but a physician, who knows his way around a hospital. Throughout The Hippocratic Myth, Bloche cements his authority in the mind of the reader by relating stories of his experience as a clinician. In each of these stories, his humane and insightful approach as psychiatrist shines through. I do not say this to imply that Bloche uses his book to brag about his own abilities. Rather, these fluently-written passages strike one as the work of one of those rare practitioners who manages to care deeply about the patient at hand while simultaneously contextualizing the encounter in a larger framework. Thus The Hippocratic Myth should take its place among other well-received books by physicians with a sense of the big picture, including Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto and Better and Jerome Groopman’s How Doctors Think.

In The Hippocratic Myth, Bloche leverages this authority to advocate for a more cost sensitive health care system, where individuals frankly acknowledge that they should expect trade-offs between cost and access to certain forms of care. My concern in this review is that Bloche the caring and expert physician would have a tough time in a health care world too deeply influenced by Bloche the cost-conscious author.

Keywords: Health care regulation, The Hippocratic Math,Bloche,Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto

Suggested Citation

Pasquale, Frank A., The Hippocratic Math (January 4, 2012). Journal of Legal Medicine, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 529-545, 2012, Seton Hall Public Law Research Paper No. 2012-01, Available at SSRN:

Frank A. Pasquale (Contact Author)

Brooklyn Law School ( email )

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States

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