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114 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Humanity of Doctors
I could hardly put this book down until I was finished with it. It was not just eye-opening about how some of the ethical choices in medicine must be made, including the all-too necessary financial considerations. It showed how human doctors are and how difficult it can be for them to have to make heart-wrenching decisions in which there is no right answer, especially...
Published on March 11, 2004 by D. Phillips

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Read this before buying
If you are expecting a book that describes the exciting world of hospital life with the focus on the patients, then this book is not for you.

It only follows about four or five patients, and not even then is this book focused on the patients.

Instead, the main part of this book is focused on hospital administration, committee meetings, and most of...
Published on January 27, 2012 by Jeani Rector


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114 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Humanity of Doctors, March 11, 2004
By 
D. Phillips (Overland Park, KS United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: First, Do No Harm: The Dramatic Story of Real Doctors and Patients Making Impossible Choices at a Big-City Hospital (Mass Market Paperback)
I could hardly put this book down until I was finished with it. It was not just eye-opening about how some of the ethical choices in medicine must be made, including the all-too necessary financial considerations. It showed how human doctors are and how difficult it can be for them to have to make heart-wrenching decisions in which there is no right answer, especially when it is clear that, no matter which choice they make, there is not going to be a good outcome for the patient. In spite of their training and attempt to insulate themselves emotionally from their cases in order to remain objective and professional, it's not always possible. Ms. Belkin's descriptions of doctors in tears was very moving, and proved to me that those people chose the right profession, because they really do care about their patients.
I found, by searching for them on the AMA web site, that a lot of the doctors in this book are still in practice in Houston (one is in Albuquerque). This search gave absolute credence to the fact that these stories are not fiction but about real people.
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75 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Lisa, for being fair, November 30, 2000
This review is from: First, Do No Harm: The Dramatic Story of Real Doctors and Patients Making Impossible Choices at a Big-City Hospital (Mass Market Paperback)
Having a child featured in this book, I have read it several times. Lisa did a fantastic job when she wrote this book. You will find it to be a very insightful book. Having lived through this ordeal myself, I know that Lisa tried very hard to make sure that her facts are real and accurate. If you enjoy stories about the medical field I trully believe that you will find this one hard to put down until you have finished it.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book!, January 27, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: First, Do No Harm: The Dramatic Story of Real Doctors and Patients Making Impossible Choices at a Big-City Hospital (Mass Market Paperback)
Ms. Belkin follows the work of the ethics commitee at Hermann Hospital. For anyone who enjoys true medical stories and difficult biomedical ethics problems, this is a great novel. Ms. Belkin does not present solutions, since in most cases there are no "right" solutions. Instead she provides an objective account of the cases from the point of view of all parties involved. This would also be an excellent book to use for discussion in a biomedical ethics clas
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You may laugh or may cry, but you won't put this book down, November 29, 2006
By 
Peter Davies (Vancouver, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: First, Do No Harm: The Dramatic Story of Real Doctors and Patients Making Impossible Choices at a Big-City Hospital (Mass Market Paperback)
Despite the major advances in knowledge, skills, and technology in the field of medicine, this book shows that ultimately life and death fall back on the human touch. Following the workings of an Ethics Committee in a major urban hospital over several months, Belkin clearly shows that medicine continues to be as much an art as a science and in many cases there are no "right" answers, even when decisions can affect whether a patient lives or dies.

This is not a dry, mechanical review of how ethical decisions are made. Quite the opposite, the book captures your full attention from the very first page. You become fully involved in the heart-wrenching lives of actual hospital patients, as well as the no-win situations health care professionals and family members find themselves in when struggling with decisions that literally have life or death consequences.

For example, when she describes the process in which the life support devices are withdrawn from a young patient you feel you are there in the room witnessing the tragedy. Some readers might scream within their minds not to do it - perhaps there is something else can be done? Others may feel a sense of loving compassion over the ending of someone's suffering. Both types will feel incredible compassion for those who had to make the actual decision and hopefully will never have to make such a choice in their own lives.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Will Written, April 27, 2006
This review is from: First, Do No Harm: The Dramatic Story of Real Doctors and Patients Making Impossible Choices at a Big-City Hospital (Mass Market Paperback)
The dilemmas in this book are extraordinarily touching.

Ms.Belkin keeps your mind involved as she shifts between situations. It is hard to read the book without thinking what would you do if you were to make a decision such as those mentioned. You will enjoy reading this book especially if you are a deep thinker. I will gladly purchase her other books.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the better books about hospitals and patients, October 26, 2009
By 
sb-lynn (Santa Barbara, California United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: First, Do No Harm: The Dramatic Story of Real Doctors and Patients Making Impossible Choices at a Big-City Hospital (Mass Market Paperback)
I am a big fan of medical books, with all their stories about doctors and patients. My shelves are replete with them, including books by Frank Huyler and Jerome Groopman, Jerald Winakur and Atul Gawande, just to name a few. I love stories that humanize hospitals and their staff, and make us empathize and educate us on what goes on inside those walls.

This book gets an A+ in that regard. Lisa Belkin divides her book up by months, and within those months we revisit certain patients to see their progress. We come to know and care about all of them - from the tiniest of premature babies, to those with devastating injuries and illnesses that foretell the bleakest of futures.

But this book is more than just our empathizing with these patients and learning about their treatments, it's also about finding out how the medical staff deals with all this on a regular basis. It's not only the patients we come to know and care about in this book.

In addition, there are fascinating chapters that take us inside the ethics committees that determine the future course of action for these patients, and let us know how the doctors determine when to proceed with procedures that may or may not help, and when the very real problems of hospital finances becomes intertwined with these complicated decisions.

I read this book in one sitting and it both moved me and educated me. Highly recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Material, March 1, 2007
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This review is from: First, Do No Harm: The Dramatic Story of Real Doctors and Patients Making Impossible Choices at a Big-City Hospital (Mass Market Paperback)
This book will keep you wanting to turn the page and make it hard to put down the book. This is a great explanation of real life situations that patients and hospitals face everyday. Some of the situations that are hard for some people to understand why hospitals are concerned with matters like money and certain treatments of patients can be explained.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First, Do No Harm, February 27, 2006
By 
J. L. Young (Phoenix, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: First, Do No Harm: The Dramatic Story of Real Doctors and Patients Making Impossible Choices at a Big-City Hospital (Mass Market Paperback)
I enjoyed reading this book and it taught me alot about what hospitals, doctors and clients go through. I cried at times and felt sad about some of the outcomes. It also, made me glad I have a will in place to help my husband and family do what is best for me.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Read this before buying, January 27, 2012
This review is from: First, Do No Harm: The Dramatic Story of Real Doctors and Patients Making Impossible Choices at a Big-City Hospital (Mass Market Paperback)
If you are expecting a book that describes the exciting world of hospital life with the focus on the patients, then this book is not for you.

It only follows about four or five patients, and not even then is this book focused on the patients.

Instead, the main part of this book is focused on hospital administration, committee meetings, and most of all, hospital costs.

Yes, this book seems to want to enlighten us that taking uninsured patients is extremely costly to hospitals. Not willing to stop there, this book emphasizes the disparity between wealthy patients and poor patients, and how hospitals are eager to send chronic poor patients elsewhere (gee, we didn't know that already, right?) or even give them a DNR.

I agree that modern medicine does have the ability to extend life unnaturally, and "First, Do No Harm" questions SHOULD WE. That is the positive in this book.

But this book goes on and on about hospital administration. It makes it clear that committee meetings and concern for costs are not always in the patient's best interests, as demonstrated by the chapters on Armando, a shooting victim who needs chronic care who the hospital practically hopes will die so they don't get "stuck" with him because he is uninsured and poor. This book seems angry at Armando's mother who loves her son and is in denial of his condition.

So, if you want to read about a doctor's personal relationship with patients instead of hospital administrative practices and committee meetings, may I suggest "When the Air Hits Your Brain" by Frank T. Vertosick Jr MD.

If you have run out of Sominex and are interested in the administrative costs of running a hospital, by all means buy this dull book, "First, Do No Harm" by Lisa Belkin.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The humanity of doctors in an often inhumane field, September 3, 2008
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This review is from: First, Do No Harm: The Dramatic Story of Real Doctors and Patients Making Impossible Choices at a Big-City Hospital (Mass Market Paperback)
Author Lisa Belkin did her research, in this riveting book. Many who enter the field of medicine do care about helping people; doctors do care about their patients and are frustrated by health insurance, legal concerns and concerns for the patient and their families.

Based in a hospital in Houston, where Belkin did her research, you will not put down this book.

You will feel new empathy for doctors who agonize over the end of life issues with patients and their families.
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