Incidental Findings: Lessons from My Patients in the Art of Medicine

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Ofri begins by recounting a time when the shoe was on the other foot, when she, as a first-time expectant mother, was the patient.


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After a sonogram, Ofri and her husband were rather casually told that their baby's umbilical cord was missing one artery. Her disorientation and anxiety that day deepened her ability to empathize with those who are ill.

Incidental Findings by Danielle Ofri (ebook)

In "A Day in the Clinic," she describes how a language barrier left her unable to effectively comfort an Asian man with a brain tumor. In the especially moving "Terminal Thoughts," Ofri intuits that a woman's signature on a Do Not Resuscitate order and her refusal of dialysis were rooted in depression. Ofri reworks her pain medications and extracts a promise that the patient will stay on dialysis.

The patient will not be cured, but Ofri's goal is not to provide happy endings; rather, she aims to wed compassion to medical training and knowledge, to recall her ongoing struggles to understand the sick and to make their lives more bearable.


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All paths lead to Bellevue for the sick, the maimed, and the crazed. The distinguishing characteristics of this work, those qualities that mark words and sentences that penetrate rather than slide by, are especially well shown in Ofri's tales of human beings she has served as a physician.


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These stories interest the reader by means of the revealed details of human lives, often by their poignancy, but also because the case histories illuminate major concerns. McCreary had somehow managed to stay ignorant of, or oblivious to, the insidious progression of his diabetes over the years. Most people learn their diagnoses early on. They grow accustomed to the pills and the blood tests.

They have time to acclimate themselves to their illnesses.

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But not Mr. He was going cold turkey from the healthy to the sick. McCreary was crossing the river, and not the one that separates Manhattan from Queens. Any doctor who has spent years at Bellevue and I reveal here that I am one of them holds in storage many notable tales of human woe and triumph, the commonplace and the bizarre. Patients who fake illness for other gain are consistent standouts in the life experiences of physicians, and Ofri has one of the best of these to describe. This is the tale of Cheryl, affable, plump, young, who has learned that "pain" triggers medical attention.

Incidental Findings: Lessons from My Patients in the Art of Medicine

Cheryl suddenly becomes the responsibility of our author in her second year of residency training. Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan.

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