Seven Patients

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Seven Patients

Last Free Dates: 15th Feb 16 to 19th Feb 16
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...not for the squeamish, or the easily disturbed...Nothing in the book is gratuitous, however. It is a blunt and detailed medical drama, without sugar-coating....

Raj, a medical student, takes us through his first year in training as a medical student on the floor of a major hospital, focusing on seven distinct cases through the year.

This has a warning for graphic content, but I tackled it anyway thinking I could handle this book due to over-exposure to forensic pathology and the “Things I learned from my patients” discussions. I could, and I don’t regret reading it, but I’ll say right now this book is not for the squeamish, or the easily disturbed. This is medically accurate, so definitely not PG-13.

For those who are not a fan of medical drama, or are prone to nightmares, I’d probably suggest avoiding this. As an example of why, did you know a person’s body can develop an allergic reaction to their own skin and try to remove the problem? That is one of the less disturbing cases. What makes it worse is when the doctor has done everything right, but unforeseen circumstances mean the direct result is something horrific. Trying to live with the fact you’ve killed or crippled someone you were trying to save isn’t easy on the doctor, or on this book’s readers.

I’m trying to avoid spoiling the story, which is excellent. The last book I read similar to this was Bringing out the Dead, a novelisation of Scorsese’s drama about paramedics. This is not Casualty or E.R., and some of the decisions made are chilling. Despite the gore, a lot of the horror is in the cold-blooded assessments and actions of the doctors.

Nothing in the book is gratuitous, however. It is a blunt and detailed medical drama, without sugar-coating. The author’s research is incredible, and the doctors and patients are utterly realistic. Their workloads are merciless, and lack of sleep is a repeated and major problem. Anyone without sympathy for the schedules of junior doctors and medical students should read this.

The formatting is generally good, but there are a few issues. Each of the medical terms is hyper-linked to an explanation in the glossary at the back, but I’ll be honest I never clicked them and by the second story they had faded into the background. While the writing has a literary note, some of the terms used are questionable choices and may not convey the author’s meaning clearly, e.g. harbinger or vacuous. There are also a few formatting problems on the first few pages, with hyperlinks mixed in with text that is underlined, and the underline in one case running off the edge of the page. These errors only really seem to occur in the first story, which is also, coincidentally, the weakest.

If this book were just about the gore and unusual medical conditions, it would not stand out. What is good is the way it follows Raj through his training year, the different departments, people, and personalities all coming through clearly and creating the picture of the busy hospital where he works. This may be in chapters, but each chapter is largely self-contained and can be read like a short story.

Lovers of medical dramas should get this, but beware the strong content as it is definitely for adults. The content is strong enough that I might actually suggest it to horror readers as well. When I put it down, I went for a walk to clear my head. This book leaves an impression.

Rating: 4
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Discussion

rz3300 (14 September 2016)
I think sometimes I am need of stories that a little more in your face, and have less of the sugar-coating. That said, though, I do not have a good history when it comes to being squeamish around medical stuff, and I do not do well in hospitals or areas like that. It might be an interesting experience, then.

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