Mistreated is a brilliant and original analysis from one of medicine’s most insightful leaders. The doctor is in.” —Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author of David and Goliath
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About Mistreated

Why We Think We’re Getting Good Health Care—and Why We’re Usually Wrong

A Washington Post Bestseller by Robert Pearl, MD

The biggest problem in American health care is us

Do you know how to tell good health care from bad health care? Guess again. As patients, we wrongly assume the “best” care is dependent mainly on the newest medications, the most complex treatments, and the smartest doctors.

Americans look for health-care solutions in the wrong places. For example, hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved each year if doctors reduced common errors and maximized preventive medicine.

For Dr. Robert Pearl, these kinds of mistakes are a matter of professional importance, but also personal significance: he lost his own father due in part to poor communication and treatment planning by doctors. Consumers make costly mistakes too. We demand modern information technology from our banks, airlines, and retailers, but we passively accept last century’s technology in our health care.

Solving the challenges of health care starts with understanding these problems. Mistreated explains why subconscious misperceptions are so common in medicine, and shows how modifying the structure, technology, financing, and leadership of American health care could radically improve quality outcomes. This important book proves we can overcome our fears and faulty assumptions, and provides a roadmap for a better, healthier future.

Published May 2, 2017 (PublicAffairs)

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook

Mistreated: Why We Think We're Getting Good Health Care—and Why We're Usually Wrong
Mistreated: Why We Think We're Getting Good Health Care—and Why We're Usually WrongBy Robert Pearl, MD

Praise for Mistreated

  • Mistreated is a brilliant and original analysis from one of medicine’s most insightful leaders. The doctor is in.

    Malcolm Gladwell bestselling author of David and Goliath
  • Mistreated is a power read, an incredible insight into American healthcare. Robert Pearl is a wonderful writer.

    Abraham Verghese, MD professor of medicine, Stanford University, and author of Cutting for Stone
  • If you want to understand how to fix healthcare, listen to Robert Pearl: he knows.

    Chip Heath coauthor of Switch and Decisive
  • Dr. Robert Pearl lays bare the shortsightedness of the broken U.S. healthcare system, why we resist better science, newer technology, and reform.

    Elisabeth Rosenthal editor in chief of Kaiser Health News
  • Pearl is a leader who transformed his own health system — he offers that experience to show everyone the way.

    Atul Gawande bestselling author of Being Mortal
  • Everyone — healthcare professionals and those who rely on them — should read this book and heed its advice. Now is our time to transform healthcare.

    John Chambers Executive Chairman, Cisco


Robert Pearl, MD

Dr. Robert Pearl is the former CEO of The Permanente Medical Group (1999-2017), the nation’s largest medical group, and former president of The Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group (2009-2017). In these roles, he led 9,000 physicians, 35,000 staff, and was responsible for the nationally recognized medical care of 4 million Kaiser Permanente members on the west and east coasts.

Recently named one of Modern Healthcare’s 50 most influential physician leaders, Pearl is an advocate for the power of integrated, prepaid, technologically advanced and physician-led healthcare delivery.

He serves as a clinical professor of plastic surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine and is on the faculty of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he teaches courses on strategy and leadership, and lectures on information technology and healthcare policy.

In 2017 he authored “Mistreated: Why We think We’re Getting Good Healthcare—And Why We’re Usually Wrong” a Washington Post bestseller that offers a road map for transforming American healthcare. All proceeds from the book benefit Doctors Without Borders.

As a regular contributor to Forbes, Pearl covers the business of healthcare and the culture of medicine. He has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNBC, NPR, and in TIME, USA Today and Bloomberg News. He has published more than 100 articles in various medical journals and contributed to numerous books. He is a frequent keynote speaker at healthcare and medical technology conferences, Pearl has address the Commonwealth Club, the World Healthcare Congress, and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s National Quality Forum.

Board certified in plastic and reconstructive surgery, Pearl received his medical degree from the Yale University School of Medicine, followed by a residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery at Stanford University. From 2012 to 2017, Pearl served as chairman of the Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP), which includes the nation’s largest and best multispecialty medical groups, and participated in the Bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Delivery System Reform and Health IT in Washington, D.C.

Connect with Dr. Robert Pearl on social media:

Recent & Upcoming Events

Dr. Pearl speaks frequently on the intersection of healthcare, business and American policy: 

  • Americans spend the most money on healthcare, yet our quality outcomes lag most industrialized nations. Why?
  • How the context of American healthcare distorts the perception of doctors and patients and alters behavior.
  • The impact of the Affordable Care Act on healthcare and what future legislation may mean.
  • The four pillars that will transform the future of our healthcare system.

Dr. Pearl’s recent and upcoming keynote speaking engagements include:

September 14 – 15, 2017

Stanford, CA

Stanford Medicine X logo

Check out Dr. Robert Pearl’s insights from the 2017 Stanford MedX, a multifaceted program that represents a new way of solving healthcare’s most pressing problems. Medicine X is an innovative way of re-imagining digital health, medical education, clinical research, new health care venture formation, and the future of health care.

September 27 – 29, 2017

Rochester, MN

Mayo Clinic's Transform Conference 2017

Making two appearances at Mayo Transform 2017, Dr. Robert Pearl will join an expert panel on Sept. 28 to discuss “Overcoming Inertia” in American healthcare. Later that day, Dr. Pearl will take part in a debate with fellow bestselling author Ezekiel (Zeke) Emanuel on whether “The U.S. Healthcare System Is Terminally Broken.” The debate will stream live from the event center in Rochester, Minn., before airing on NPR stations around the country.

October 4, 2017

Washington, D.C.


Brookings Institution will host Dr. Robert Pearl, alongside a group of panelists on Oct. 4, to discuss why the government’s response to the problems of U.S. healthcare has been inadequate, and what can be done to ground healthcare policy in firm, reliable science. Panelists include Elisabeth Rosenthal, author of the bestselling book “An American Sickness.”

October 5 – 6, 2017

Washington, D.C.


The NAACOS Fall 2017 Conference will draw more than 700 ACO leaders from across the country. On Oct. 5, Dr. Pearl will be discussing and signing his book, Mistreated: Why We Think We’re Getting Good Healthcare–And Why We’re Usually Wrong. This NAACOS conference will deliver valuable policy insights and operational strategies for all accountable care organizations.

October 11 – 13, 2017

Washington, D.C.


The passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) ended two decades of congressional wrestling over how to pay physicians in the Medicare program. On Oct. 13, Dr. Robert Pearl will keynote the MACRA MIPS/APM Summit and discuss his recently published book “Mistreated” in the context of American healthcare policy.

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