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:

2018 Speaking Engagements

Dr. Pearl is now available for keynote speaking opportunities in Summer/Fall 2018. His presentations often cover the intersection of American healthcare, business and policy. Popular themes include: 

  • Why do Americans spend the most money on healthcare but lag behind most industrialized nations in quality outcomes?
  • How does the context of American healthcare distort the perception and alter the behavior of doctors and patients?
  • What are the four pillars that will transform the future of our healthcare system?

Dr. Pearl’s 2018 keynote highlights include:

February 11-16, 2018

Maui, HI


As a keynote speaker, Dr. Pearl will address CEOs, trustees and medical staff leaders at the Estes Park Institute Conference this February.

April 19, 2018

New Orleans, LA


American healthcare is ripe for disruption, but is it too late for the traditional system to save itself? Dr. Pearl answers this question at the ACP Internal Medicine Meeting.

April 20, 2018

San Diego, CA


Dr. Pearl will discuss themes from his 2017 bestseller “Mistreated” and host a book signing at the CAPG Annual Conference in San Diego.

Recap Of 2017 Speaking Engagements

September 14 – 15, 2017

Stanford, CA

Stanford Medicine X logo

Check out Dr. Robert Pearl’s insights from the 2017 Stanford MedX, a multifaceted conference that offers new ways to solve healthcare’s most pressing problems.

September 27 – 29, 2017

Rochester, MN

Mayo Clinic's Transform Conference 2017

Dr. Pearl made two appearances at Mayo Transform 2017, including a nationally broadcast NPR debate on whetherThe U.S. Healthcare System Is Terminally Broken.”

October 4, 2017

Washington, D.C.

Brookings Institution

At the Brookings Institution, Dr. Pearl joined group of panelists to discuss why the government’s response to the problems of U.S. healthcare has been inadequate.

October 5 – 6, 2017

Washington, D.C.

NAACOS Fall 2017 Conference

Dr. Pearl shared lessons on the future of healthcare at the NAACOS Fall 2017 Conference, which drew more than 700 ACO leaders from across the country.

October 11 – 13, 2017

Washington, D.C.


American healthcare policy and reimbursement methods are undergoing change. Dr. Pearl joined the MACRA MIPS/APM Summit to share his insights.

October 26, 2017

New Haven, CT

Yale School of Medicine Alumni Grand Rounds

The Yale School of Medicine hosted Dr. Robert Pearl, class of ’72, during its Alumni Grand Rounds. In his new blog post, Pearl discusses his Yale experience, life in medicine, and a prescription for our healthcare system.

October 31, 2017

San Diego, CA

Work Comp Central | Comp Laude Awards & Gala

At the WorkCompCentral annual Comp Laude® Awards, Dr. Pearl’s opening “fireside chat” revealed how issues confronting workers’ comp can be solved with an integrative solution.

November 3, 2017

Bethesda, MD

Uniformed Services University

Dr. Robert Pearl spoke with students at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences about why Americans think they’re getting good health care, and why they’re usually wrong.

December 6 – 7, 2017

Arlington, VA

National Health Care Ratings Summit

Dr. Robert Pearl concluded his 2017 speaking tour as a keynote speaker at The Leapfrog National Health Care Ratings Summit where he discussed how organizations are improving U.S. health through healthcare ratings.

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