The Medicine of ER or, How We Almost Die

I found this book at a small, used bookstore on Penn’s campus. The bookstore had SO many things. I absolutely love bookstores, but finding this small one nestled next to a music store along a small block of restaurants (I use that term lightly) was truly a treasure. I like looking at medical books, even if they are somewhat dry, just because I always hope to find that one book that gives me a new perspective on the medical field or healthcare in general. Sometimes its just a bunch of firsthand accounts, sometimes it’s a “what to expect” type of book, but I just love to learn as much as I can about the profession and everything surrounding it. So when I saw this book The Medicine of ER, or How We Almost Die, I of course had to pick it up.

I first started watching ER during my high school summers, when reruns would be on TV in the mornings. I mainly enjoyed the first few seasons but didn’t really follow it otherwise. Still, as with all TV shows, I knew everything should be taken with a grain of salt, if not more. So this book was interesting, because it directly referenced a lot of things found in the TV show and then either supported or refuted or altered them. The authors, Harlan Gibbs and Alan Duncan Ross, are wonderful. The writing tone and style are just fantastic. The authors’ voices come through loud and clear, and they offer a very blunt look at a patient’s journey through the emergency department, starting from the very beginning, when the paramedics are called.

I love that this book showcases so many different professions. From the EMTs to the ER clerks to the nurses, medical students, and doctors, nobody is left out. Everybody’s task is vital, like the links on a chain. If one link breaks, the chain suffers, and ultimately, so does the patient.

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read or anyone interested in anything healthcare-related. It’s written in a great, witty style, moves along fast, but at the same time, loads you with information. And it’s really cool stuff, too – or at least I think so 😉 It gives people who might not be too health-inclined a good idea of what to expect going into the ER. It also de-mystifies doctors, in a way. The authors explain the science and the mystery surrounding all the tests being done on the patient and how the medical team arrives at a diagnosis.  It’s not just “bibbity-bobbity-boo” and the doctor having an epiphany (usually). A lot gets done behind-the-scenes to then  help the doctor identify what could be wrong and how to fix it.

My favorite thing about this book, though, is probably how they describe the entire process, and the roles of everyone in this medical team. Because medicine isn’t just about one person helping a patient. It’s about a group of people each doing their part to ensure that the patient can move on to see the next person and ultimately get better. I just like the concept of teamwork and how it is presented here. While it is a slightly older book, I still feel like it should apply to how things work today.

Overall, a really great book that anyone could read and enjoy, whether you’re heading down the healthcare road or just curious to learn more as a patient 🙂