Read First, Do No Harm by Lisa Belkin Online


What is life worth? And what is a life worth living? At a time when America faces vital choices about the future of its health care, former New York Times correspondent Lisa Belkin takes a powerful and poignant look at the inner workings of Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas, telling the remarkable, real-life stories of the doctors, patients, families, and hospital adminisWhat is life worth? And what is a life worth living? At a time when America faces vital choices about the future of its health care, former New York Times correspondent Lisa Belkin takes a powerful and poignant look at the inner workings of Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas, telling the remarkable, real-life stories of the doctors, patients, families, and hospital administrators who must ask--and ultimately answer--the most profound and heart-rendng questions about life and death....

Title : First, Do No Harm
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780449222904
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

First, Do No Harm Reviews

  • Kate
    2018-12-21 12:23

    If you're interested in medical ethics, this book is amazing. The author recounts true case studies of several patients that in some way, shape or form require review of the hospital's ethical committee. It really forces you to reconcile your personal ethical beliefs with humane medical practices and brings to light the challenges that patients' families and health care practitioners face on a daily basis. A philosophically gritty yet inspiring read.

  • Louise
    2018-12-27 12:56

    A compelling look at the tough decisions doctor's, parents and others are forced to make each day in an Intensive Care Unit. The book was very well written, although I was a tad aghast at some of the feelings and expressions of a few doctor's who view human life as "well, let 'em die and we'll move on" because the patient didn't have enough money or insurance to support their care!!From the back cover:"A young doctor must decide whether last ditch surgery will prolong a fifteen year old's life or simply prolong his agony. A poor, uninsured immigrant, paralyzed by a bullet in his spine, is explicitly offered the choice to die. A mother and father fight to take their fragile, premature twins off the machines that keep them alive. What is life worth? And what is a life worth living? At a time when America faces vital choices about the future of its health care, former New York Times correspondent Lisa Belkin takes a powerful and poignant look at the inner workings of Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas, telling the remarkable, real life stories of the doctors, patients, families and hospital administrators who must ask - and ultimately answer the most profound and heart-rending questions about life and death."

  • Rebecca
    2019-01-13 08:59

    It's dated, but still engrossing reading and well written. It is nonjudgemental towards the doctors, institutions, patients or parents. The book gives a real feel for the heartache, and ethical and moral considerations, that go into treating children and adults with terminal or incurable illness. Very few books are written about how difficult it is to make decisions, or be involved in the decision making process, that can directly lead to death. This book was worth reading.

  • Sana
    2018-12-21 12:07

    First, Do No Harm is an essential book for each and every person present on earth although, it wouldn't be that way. It is a book addressing the many complexities of being a doctor. The question it keeps on asking and which also taps into our conscience, is that whether medicine is ultimately aiming to do too much.The book essentially deals with a big city hospital and addresses four different cases involving ethics as the chief topic of concern. Increasingly, medicine is becoming about economics and doctors about businessmen. Although, no one would like to think so hospitals as giving more importance to insurance and money rather than the patient and doctors to prefer patients on the basis of their financial status.Though, the answer to 'What is life worth?" and what can be considered as a life worth saving or to just having to prolong death is different. Yet, the book has nothing to with religion and everything to do with how a particular case can be dealt with.In all, it is a wonderful book which may brings tears to the eyes especially when considering that it is a non-fiction book. I salute Lisa Belkin for writing such a book and opening many doors to the unknown. I would highly recommend it.

  • Kelly
    2019-01-06 08:59

    It was an eye opening read. The real life health situations that the people in the book experience are heartbreaking at times. For the parents that had to make that life/death decision for their children was heartbreaking. Health is not often a topic that crosses my mind, but this book made you think of the life/death decisions that hospitals all around the county make and unfortunatly money is often a factor. I appreciate how Belkin exposed the money part of healthcare. For me the root of the book surrounded money, patients and the best treatment was a factor because it made those decisions more human and easier to understand. It is a well worth read.

  • Elaine
    2018-12-30 13:23

    I'd like to say I loved this book but the subject matter was so draining to get through. It is so depressing and it makes me so angry. Angry that people are faced with such decisions in the first place. Angry that people would lose their friends because of what they are going through. You are wrong if you make one decision. You are wrong if you make the opposing decision. Too many ethical, moral, and legal implications. God forbid if you're a Christian as well and are faced with something like this. I couldn't even imagine the guilt.The doctors are pressing a family to make a decision. The highly stressed family finally reaches a very difficult decision and then told by these same doctors that they are going to fight that decision. How messed up is that! Without the advances in medical treatments, families would never be faced with such difficult decisions. And yet those same advances in medicine can and do work wonders for others.Cases such as this are discussed at length: The life of a newborn preemie facing what could be a very difficult life is discussed over and over again. That child is highly deformed, will require several surgeries, will never lead a "normal” life. Who's to say whether that child should be left on a ventilator or removed from it? What is best for the child? What is best for the family? How much is it costing the insurance companies? How much is it costing the hospital? How much is it costing the family? And finally, how much is it costing the baby?What is the answer when a perfectly "normal” unborn child doesn't get even a twinge of consideration.I’d have to say 3 stars because it was terribly awful to get through and it was getting me angry and sad.

  • Jim Gleason
    2019-01-11 06:08

    dramatic story of real doctors and patients making impossible choices at a big city hospitalsee this and more than a hundred other organ donation/transplant related books - many with my personal reviews - at

  • Carol
    2018-12-24 10:15

    Even though it is not an "enjoyable" book, it is one of the most interesting I have read lately. The same ethical issues the author was dealing with 15 years ago still often cause stress for my colleagues and me. Realistic and honest.

  • Wendy
    2019-01-07 08:04

    Very well written about very tough situations.

  • Cheryl
    2019-01-13 11:16

    What a fascinating look at the world of medical ethics through the eyes of the individuals involved -- patients, family members, doctors, nurses, and ethicists! The Medical Ethics Law class I took in law school was one of my favorites and we covered questions like right to die and right of the parents of babies to refuse treatment and living wills and such. Still, this book presented some questions I never thought of. The story of Patrick, who had lived for 16 years with a fatal disease that normally means a life expectancy of 2 or 3 presented so many questions -- right of consent, using medication for non-approved purposes, using medication longer than is considered safe (in his case many years longer), and whether he should be given addictive painkillers since he would eventually die anyway. Armando, who was expected to die and be an organ donor but is still alive with a bullet lodged at C1 offered an amazing story and a reminder that everyone views a quality life differently. The stories of the little babies will break your heart, as will the impact of all of the stories on the medical staff.For me, one thing I had a really hard time with was the story of the fiduciary malfeasance of the hospital board, especially compounded by the laissez-faire attitude of the courts. Much of the early waste and abuse was approved by the courts in violation of everything I was taught about charitable trust law, but the approval made it legal when otherwise it would have been felony-level fraud and embezzlement. Given the detrimental impact on those with life-threatening and life-changing conditions, this seems particularly heinous. Of course, if I start discussing the detrimental impact of the "free market" system and the need for big money in medicine I may never stop.Definitely a book I would recommend to anyone who wanted to think about questions of heart-breaking alternatives or who was interested in how law and medicine collide in ways not necessarily useful to the patients. I didn't have any problems with the medical terminology, but since I work in a medical-based field of law, I suppose I am not a good judge of that.

  • Luis
    2019-01-15 08:58

    This nonfiction book; First, Do No Harm, written by Lisa Belkin has actually taught me a lot about life. It's not always easy to go around dealing with things that can barely keep you alive. Patrick for example was kept alive by some tubes that ran through his throat. Can you imagine going through life without being able to eat or drink like a normal kid, getting used to the pain and living in a hospital. There is people who can’t stand the fact of going to the hospital and staying on it for a couple of hours, now imagine being in there for all your life without being able to go out as much as a healthy kid. Doctors did all they could to keep their patients alive but at times hesitated thinking how they would do around life dealing with their problems. It was the doctors who had the worst responsibility since it was them who had to pull the string and it was them who had to decide on what was the best choice for their patients. It was even worst when they figured that the family was very attached to their patients. For Patrick, it was the doctors who were family to him along with the staff and everyone in the hospital. There was not a person in there who didn’t know him and who didn’t act politely around him. His mother barely saw him so he didn’t care much about her. It was the same as if she was or wasn’t there. It was the doctors who looked after him and who were there for him when he was in pain or sick not his mom. But, it was getting very hard now. They were running out of materials to keep him alive and they couldn’t afford it anymore, he had also had many operations which were now getting to big. It was time to face reality and try to talk him out to understand the situation even though it was going to be very hard, maybe not for Patrick but more for the doctor telling him that it was time to let him go. They did also have more patients who the situation but very critical and bad like the twins were unfortunately one of them died and the other patient who had been shot and could barely move some part of his face were the rest of his body was paralyzed.

  • ChrisGA
    2019-01-02 08:19

    FIRST,DO NO HARM is an insightful examination of the life and death decisions made in hospitals everyday concerning how much care should be given to the irreversibly damaged patient and when and if that care should be discontinued. It sympathetically probes the thinking of the doctors and nurses, parents and family members, and in several cases the patient himself. There are no villains; only people struggling to make the best possible choices in dreadful situations. The patients considered are a ventilator dependent quadriplegic immigrant, a 15 year old whose defective digestive system requires he be fed through a central line tube directly into his heart and is slowly having his organs destroyed by infection, a premature set of twins who just haven’t been inside long enough to live on the outside, and an infant born with severe spinal bifida. The more medical science advances, the more it is possible to prolong a life that once could only be made comfortable until the inevitable death. Now the question becomes not can we but should we. Although the book makes clear the fact that hospitals and medical staff are trying to separate the crippling expense of the care for these patients from whether they should continue to receive extraordinary medical intervention, the financial reality is unavoidable. The whole matter is depressing as there are no clear cut answers of right and wrong—no certainty as what course of treatment is the correct one. Once any decision is agonizingly made, those involved continue to second guess themselves. Depressing but insightful just the same. Not an enjoyable read but certainly a relevant one.

  • Davina Bell
    2019-01-12 05:56

    I have to admit, I had to read this book for a philosophy class, so it was not one I would have just pick up and start reading. However, it was a very easy and heart-wrenching read. It gave real insight into the ethics of the health care industry. So much goes on in taking care of the sick and disabled. I felt for all those invloved in the process. From the doctors to the families. What tough choices and decisions life can give us. Mrs. Belkin did a wonderful job. It must have been really hard to stand on the side lines and just observe and try not to get too involved. A very moving book.

  • Jen Pierce
    2018-12-21 05:20

    Not really sure how to review this book. It was certainly well written, but wasn't nearly as medically compelling and interesting to me as first person accounts written by physicians of their multiple medical cases/mysteries. This book focuses primarily on three patients, and we know their diagnoses. Mostly, this is about medical ethics and working in a deeply flawed, financially draining system that keeps patients alive too long at all costs, and sadly hasn't really improved in the 22 years since it was written. Some would find it compelling, but I worked as an RN in this system for long enough to simply find rehashing these discussions draining and depressing.

  • Anita
    2019-01-19 12:04

    Very sad book overall. Babies and children being kept alive through painful surgeries and compromised lives in between. Hospital ethic committees grapple with decision that should of perhaps been left to the parents. By the time Patrick could 'decide' he'd already suffered too much. Armando, the oldest patient in this book, chooses to live. Ultimately, however, it seems that medicine has gone too far in sustaining lives at the cost of everyone involved. Interesting section on hospital bureaucracy and the greed that drives the healthcare in this country.

  • Anthony Taylor
    2019-01-08 07:57

    To date I haven't read many books on medical troubles and the ethical ramafications of the choices doctors make every day, but if I had to make a list of all the books of that category, First Do No Harm would be at the very top! It is an excellent read, with n engrossing story and meaningful characters. It is a collection of true stories about different patients and the doctors who decide on their daily lives every day at the Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas. It is a deep, thoughtful, and all around satisfying read for anyone, and I fully recommend it to all who enjoy insightful reads.

  • Yolanda
    2019-01-16 13:23

    Heart-wrenching true stories of patients on the brink of death and the difficult decisions their doctors must make. When (if ever) should money factor into the care a terminally ill patient receives? How do we know if we are doing too much, or too little, to save a life? Would it be preferable to let a seriously disabled child die than to keep them alive with machines that only prolong their suffering? Tough ethical questions are tackled in a Houston hospital. Fantastic read that made me really care about the people involved and their fates.

  • Maz
    2018-12-26 12:15

    Oh this so touched on my know...been there - done that - got the t-shirt!Having a son in a one very similar condition I know from experience the way drugs can work either for the good or bad.I know its an older bool but its so sad to know ethics haven't changed that much over the years.The book was well written and may open peoples eyes to what medical dilemas face the parents of a sick child whatever part of the world they are from. I felt the pain throughout, the trials and tribulations on a day to day basis.

  • Lisa
    2019-01-13 07:57

    The only thing that disappointed me about this book was that it didn't make me cry. Since I am such a sap, I surely thought I'd cry at least once. The book is written with a clinical and intellectual tone so you read with simultaneous attachment and detachment. The author is clearly a participant but does not place herself in the story. If she had, I think it would have given the book some much-needed humanity. The stories are captivating and heartbreaking, and I learned a lot.

  • Monica Willyard
    2018-12-27 13:11

    This is a timely and poignant story about how and when we save a life and when it's time to let go. Many of us have elderly parents suffering with dementia. For me, this book helped me explore my feelings and understand the doctors who provide care for me and my parents. It's somehow easier when I understand the perspective of all of the people involved in making hard decisions. These issues have multiple layers, and I'm still thinking through what I've read.

  • Jami Miller
    2018-12-31 08:12

    A compelling book regarding medical ethics and the consequences of decisions that have to be made every day. Having spent time with my child in the NICU and dealing with my own health issues, I can empathize with these families and the decisions they are forced to make. People should never judge until they have "walked in the shoes" of others who are faced with these dilemmas. The fact that it took place in the Houston Medical Center, a place I am VERY familiar with, was a bonus.

  • Gerry
    2019-01-18 11:07

    Belkin does an excellent job exploring the complex decisions facing a medical ethics committee in a Houston hospital, and bringing to life the pain and emotional challenges faced by patients, their families, and medical personnel when serious injuries or illnesses raise the question how much is too much. Medicine is able to do so much to prolong life that it now becomes necessary to ask when is prolonging life really only delaying inevitable and imminent death.

  • Babyjules25
    2018-12-26 09:04

    A very interesting read about health care decisions regarding life and death, especially when the choice of life will result in very poor quality or limited life. It is told through multiple personal stories/case studies making it much easier to read. This book is almost 20 years old, and makes you realize how even more complex many ethical issues have become with our new health care technology.

  • Kitty
    2019-01-07 09:05

    Although the reading wasn't enjoyable (summer reading assignment) against all odds I turned out to like it. Lisa Belkin retells these story beautifully. You get the feel of a fiction novel, as if you're there and you can feel their emotions, even though most of the terms were lost on me. Although I liked this book, it's just cruel to assign summer anything.

  • Pixismiler
    2019-01-12 08:15

    Interesting how even since the book was written over 20 years ago, much of the same problems still exist in health care namely indigent patients. I thought it was a recent problem. The book follows the story of several patients and how every little medical decision affects their life and how keeping them alive may not be the correct answer.

  • Stephanie
    2018-12-28 12:03

    This was recommended to by a student in my Doctor-Patient Relations class, and I'm glad I took the time to read it. Belkin follows the stories of several doctors and patients at a large hospital. The personal aspects of the case make the dilemmas of medical ethics come alive. Highly recommended for practitioners and students of medicine.

  • Nancy Mahanay
    2018-12-26 11:07

    A non-fiction that looks at day-to-day, life or death, medical and ethical decisions made by staff at a major hospital. I had no particular interest in medical ethics when I picked this up, but it is a fascinating read.

  • Tamara
    2018-12-23 11:57

    I learned that in the medical field there are a lot of ethical dilemmas especially concernig the quality of life. It also goes in to explain the importance of having a will. In this book you will see many lives that are affected by decisions that doctors, nurses, and families make.

  • Jessica
    2019-01-01 13:03

    Maybe more of a 2.5 stars. It was a little slow, but had some interesting issues. This is a very detailed book about medical ethics, using one hospital and 4-5 in depth cases as examples...I did cry a few times, I must admit.

  • Sally Pearce
    2019-01-16 12:08

    FIRST, DO NO HARM follows people through ethics committee over a period of time. It is true and very well written. Anyone interested in medicine and or ethics will love this book. Being a nurse, I found it fascinating.