Dr. Rob Barkett recalls dealing with a patient who was "frantic" about a year ago.
The patient, an educator, was urinating blood and convinced he had kidney cancer and only three months to live.
The man had done a Google search.
Barkett tried to comfort the patient, telling him cancer was "way down the list" of diagnoses related to having blood in the urine.
A basic ultrasound revealed a kidney stone.
The patient was going to be fine.
During his follow-up appointment, the man brought along a poster that said "Don't confuse your Google search with my medical degree."
Barkett said that patient's reaction was nothing new.
"There's a lot of people that want to use Google," he said. "I ask them what's wrong, and they give me a diagnosis rather than symptoms."
Barkett's book became available Feb. 1
Barkett saw a need, and the result was his first book, called "Simple Medicine: No More Google Searches." It came out Feb. 1 through publisher Morgan James.
"I decided I am writing a book for the patients and the patients only," Barkett said. "It's not a medical book. It's a reference book."
"Simple Medicine" describes the most common medical conditions, complaints, screening, medications and medical testing in layman terms to help patients take control of their own health care and challenge their doctor to do the right thing.
In an era when too many patients are not receiving appropriate care, "Simple Medicine" teaches that modern medicine does not equate to better medical care. A guide that describes the most common medical problems in easy-to-understand English, "Simple Medicine" inspires patients to challenge their physician and not assume they are getting the standard care of treatment from their doctor.
"Simple Medicine" provides an eye into what one’s physician is thinking and why they order certain medications or studies while showing physicians how to manage their medical practice. For those tired of the confusing internet searches for medical concerns and symptoms, "Simple Medicine" is the way out.
"Through the last several years, I've been getting a gnawing feeling that the patients were not getting the appropriate standard of care," Barkett said.
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He is the hospice director for SouthernCare-Ontario and director of Country Meadow Care Center, a nursing home.
"My reference point would be from the new patients I see," Barkett said. "I have to review patients who are not my own.
"The other factor (for writing the book) was having discussions with my colleagues, the specialists, and how they were kind of dismayed by the care their patients were getting."
Barkett, who has been in practice for 29 years, laments the changes in the medical world, which he says has gone from being personal to more mechanical relationships with patients.
He is the son of Bob Barkett Sr., a well-known, longtime physician in Mansfield.
Barkett wrote a chapter a day
Barkett said he started writing his book at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when March Madness was canceled. Longtime residents will recall Barkett was an All-Ohio basketball player for Malabar in the early 1980s.
He said he wrote a chapter a day, devoting chapters to common ailments such as hypertension and diabetes.
"I wanted to make it very concise like the old Cliff Notes we used to have," Barkett said.
He also includes more personal chapters.
"The first part of the book is about the changing medical world from when I made rounds with my father to today's modern, technical world," he said. "Insurance companies, Medicare, Medicaid, they're dictating what I do, which is very frustrating."
Early in the book, Barkett also explains why he will and will not prescribe certain medications.
"A lot of patients want to dictate their own care," he said.
Barkett finds success with first publisher
When it came time to shop his book, Barkett found success with his first publisher.
"I was really surprised. I have heard it's very difficult to become published," he said. "I was almost shocked."
Barkett recalls a phone interview with Morgan James because it happened on Jan. 8, 2021, the date of the college football championship game between Alabama and Ohio State.
"A friend had two extra tickets," Barkett said.
In his excitement to attend the game, Barkett forgot about his interview until he got the call. Fortunately, everything worked out.
Morgan James found a need for Barkett's book.
"They researched the internet and found there was not one medical guide written for the general public," Barkett said.
Emphasizing he is not an author, Barkett has no plans to write another book, saying this is a "one-and-done."
"I've done what I set out to do, and I'm pretty pleased with the result," he said.
About the author
Rob Barkett Jr. M.D. grew up in Mansfield and was first-team All Ohio in basketball, and attended Purdue University on a golf scholarship.
He was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He attended Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, and he completed his residency in internal medicine at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus. Rob joined his father’s internal medicine private practice, where they practiced together for 13 years until his father’s retirement.
Rob has remained in solo practice and is the medical director for a nursing home and hospice agency. He is married and he has six children.
This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Mansfield physician writes reference book for patients