Originally posted on my blog Guiltless Reading
I went through a Robin Cook phase of medical thrillers; Coma set me off. I've never had illusions about being a doctor but I find medicine a fascinating subject -- the minute details of our amazing bodies, how medicine affects its processes, and how doctors can make a difference.
It's Nothing Personal is far from Cook's medical conspiracies; it is more a psychological study of a doctor who is sued for malpractice -- how litigation affects one on a personal level, including one's family, and the impacts on one's professional life.
Dr. Jenna Reiner is an anesthesiologist above reproach. She's good at her job and enjoys it. One day, a rogue scrub tech, a narcotics addict, brings mayhem to the hospital by stealing drugs ... and replacing the tainted needles which are in turn used by unsuspecting anesthesiologists on unsuspecting patients. A huge health care ensues, powered along by intense media scrutiny, and Jenna and other doctors are sued by their patients for malpractice.
Jenna fights for her life as she is brought into a complicated web of hospital politics and public relations, and the personal impacts of litigation on the lives of both doctor and patient.
This is an excellent book detailing the legalities of medical malpractice suits from the viewpoint of the sued, the doctor. It is interesting to read the flip side of this legal "dance" as many books and media tackle the side of the patient and one naturally puts the patient as the wronged one. I found it surprising that she at one point felt personally responsible for infecting her patient with Hepatitis C!
The plot is simple but it is so frightening realistic. The mental anguish is described in such great detail that I couldn't put it down and I literally felt like I had gone through a wringer when I was done reading. The impacts are far-reaching personally: professionally, malpractice is suicide; but on a personal it was described as a living hell. I felt for Jenna as she strove to keep some sense of normalcy for the sake of her daughter and her husband. But as this dragged on period of time and she slowly grew wearier, weaker, hopeless.
What I loved about Jenna is that she is very much human, stripped to raw emotion, and naked of pretensions -- no superwoman front here. The fact that she found the inner strength and integrity to fight for herself is what I found profoundly moving about her character, and what I felt was core to the story.
As this is semi-autobiographical, and I know that Sherry Gorman had to originally write this using a pen name for fear of the negative exposure, I can't help but wonder how much of it is actually Sherry's experience. You can hear it firsthand from Sherry Gorman in her guest post Down the Rabbit Hole.
Uh-oh: I'm not a huge fan of the cover artwork and font type but I think it captures the spirit of the book very well! And those eyes, I had to cover up the cover because of those eyes!
Verdict: An intensely personal story about a doctor sued for malpractice. A detailed psychological look at the personal ramifications of litigation. I recommend this, but make sure you have a free afternoon as you may not be able to put this down so easily!
Read this if:
You enjoy medical thrillers or medical-themed fiction
You're ready for some intense, emotional reading
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.