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Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and…

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery

by Henry Marsh

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5853425,638 (4.16)76
  1. 00
    What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine by Danielle Ofri (fountainoverflows)
    fountainoverflows: While Marsh's book is ostensibly a collection of stories about experiences with neurosurgery patients, there is a great deal to be gleaned about doctors'--and, in particular, surgeons' emotional states, especially when the diagnosis is very grim.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Marsh's honesty is endearing. He breaks the cloak of invincibility that you think doctors have. They can be vulnerable too, and they make mistakes. But Marsh also doesn't hide that he enjoys the authority he has as the senior doctor and his pride at his superior skills as a neurosurgeon. ( )
  siok | Jun 22, 2019 |
Sehr interessant.

Ich dachte immer, die Anspannung bei einem Hirnchirurgen sei, dass der Patient während oder kurz nach der Operation verstirbt. Das eigentliche Problem sind aber die Patienten, die überleben - obwohl die Operation nicht glückt.

Tragische Schicksale.

Ich hätte gerne mehr über seinen Sohn erfahren - hat dieser Angst vor einer Remission?

Gut, dass ich nicht in England krank bin. Das Gesundheitssystem scheint schlechter als das deutsche System zu sein. ( )
  volumed42 | May 1, 2019 |
I think I would like Dr. Marsh if I met him. He is honest and tries to do his best for his patients. I found his discussion educational and interesting. His book also provides information on the health system in England. I recommend this book to anyone interested in medicine and especially neurosurgery. ( )
  GlennBell | Apr 18, 2019 |
This seems like a very honest book. While acknowledging the power and thus arrogance that comes with successfully working at the edge of his patient's life and consciousness, he is aware of the mistakes made and harm done. It seems to me that a life lived doing the best one can, kindly, while keeping a dose of humility is indeed a life well lived. (I couldn't help thinking of Charlotte' Web; when Charlotte wove the word "Humble" into her web to describe Wilber, she said the word meant "not proud".) ( )
  gbelik | Jan 29, 2019 |
CBR 10 BINGO Square: AWARD WINNER: PEN Ackerly Prize in 2015 https://www.englishpen.org/events/prizes/penackerley-prize/

Best for: People who like stories from clinicians but don’t mind a mildly obnoxious storyteller.

In a nutshell: Henry Marsh has been a brain surgeon for 40 years. So, y’know, he’s got some stories.

Worth quoting:
“She would be added to the list of my disasters — another headstone in that cemetery with the French surgeon Leriche once said all surgeons carry within themselves.”
“Informed consent sounds so easy in principle … The reality is very different. Patients are both terrified and ignorant. How are they to know whether the surgeon is competent or not? They will try to overcome their fear by investing the surgeon with superhuman abilities.”

Why I chose it:
I love medical stories. Don’t know why. But I do.

This was not my favorite. It’s not a bad book - and obviously many people think it is fantastic. In fact, the people sitting next to me on my flight home yesterday had read it and loved it. The stories are interesting for sure - and I like that each chapter is headed with a quick definition of the condition we’ll be learning about via a patient story in the pages to follow. But it’s not organized in any real way, there’s not much of a through-line or theme, and I was not impressed with some of the things the author shared.

Specifically, Marsh seems to hate fat people, hate administrators and any policy that means he doesn’t get to do things the exact way he wants, and generally seems to view himself as a bit of a martyr.

Regarding the fat hate: I saw this a little bit in “This is Going to Hurt,” which I read earlier this summer. But Marsh at one point refers to bariatric patients as small whales. Like, what the fuck, dude? I appreciate wanting to tell a story where you aren’t always the hero, and to be honest to who you are, but when that honesty involves being hateful to a group of people — some of whom have been under your care in the past — you’re being pretty shitty.

Marsh also rails against administrative changes in the NHS. He screams at non-neurosurgeons who have the nerve to come into what they’ve been told would be a shared lounge space. He completely disregards and disrespects the idea that doctors maybe shouldn’t work a million hours a week. And he apparently doesn’t give a fuck about patient confidentiality — and is proud of that.

Some of the stories he tells are interesting, but as I got to know the version of the author that he chose to reveal to his reader, I found myself less and less interested in what he had to say. I know that arrogance and ego are often hallmarks of (good!) surgeons; I’m just not sold on the idea that they are hallmarks of good writers. ( )
  ASKelmore | Aug 6, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
As a young doctor just starting out, Henry Marsh watched a neurosurgeon operate on a woman’s brain, going after a dangerous aneurysm that could rupture and kill her. This kind of surgery — taking place several inches inside the patient’s head — was perilous, and often compared, as he writes in his riveting new memoir, to bomb disposal work, “though the bravery required is of a different kind as it is the patient’s life that is at risk and not the surgeon’s.”

There was “the chase,” as the surgeon stalked his prey deep within the brain, then “the climax as he caught the aneurysm, trapped it, and obliterated it with a glittering, spring-loaded titanium clip, saving the patient’s life.” More than that, Dr. Marsh goes on, “the operation involved the brain, the mysterious substrate of all thought and feeling, of all that was important in human life — a mystery, it seemed to me, as great as the stars at night and the universe around us. The operation was elegant, delicate, dangerous and full of profound meaning. What could be finer, I thought, than to be a neurosurgeon?”

Dr. Marsh would become one of Britain’s foremost neurosurgeons, and in this unflinching book, “Do No Harm,” he gives us an extraordinarily intimate, compassionate and sometimes frightening understanding of his vocation. . . . .
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"Neurosurgeon Henry Marsh reveals the fierce joy of operating, the profoundly moving triumphs, the harrowing disasters, the haunting regrets, and the moments of black humor that characterize a brain surgeon's life. If you believe that brain surgery is a precise and exquisite craft, practiced by calm and detached surgeons, this ... brutally honest account will make you think again"--Amazon.com.… (more)

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