Summary and book reviews of One Doctor by Brendan Reilly

One Doctor

Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine

by Brendan Reilly

One Doctor
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2013, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2014, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Suzanne Reeder

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About this Book

Book Summary

An epic story told by a unique voice in American medicine, One Doctor describes life-changing experiences in the career of a distinguished physician. In riveting first-person prose, Dr. Brendan Reilly takes us to the front lines of medicine today. Whipsawed by daily crises and frustrations, Reilly must deal with several daunting challenges simultaneously: the extraordinary patients under his care on the teeming wards of a renowned teaching hospital; the life-threatening illnesses of both of his ninety-year-old parents; and the tragic memory of a cold case from long ago that haunts him still.

As Reilly's patients and their families survive close calls, struggle with heartrending decisions, and confront the limits of medicine's power to cure, One Doctor lays bare a fragmented, depersonalized, business-driven health-care system where real caring is hard to find. Every day, Reilly sees patients who fall through the cracks and suffer harm because they lack one doctor who knows them well and relentlessly advocates for their best interests.

Filled with fascinating characters in New York City and rural New England - people with dark secrets, mysterious illnesses, impossible dreams, and many kinds of courage - One Doctor tells their stories with sensitivity and empathy, reminding us of professional values once held dear by all physicians. But medicine has changed enormously during Reilly's career, for both better and worse, and One Doctor is a cautionary tale about those changes. It is also a hopeful, inspiring account of medicine's potential to improve people's lives, Reilly's quest to understand the "truth" about doctoring, and a moving testament to the difference one doctor can make.

INTRODUCTION

Live a simple and temperate life, that you may give all your powers to your profession. Medicine is a jealous mistress; she will be satisfied with no less.

—Sir William Osler (1904)

Despite this famous advice from a legendary physician, most doctors don't live a simple life. All of us, seduced at an early age by Osler's mistress, conduct our own lifelong affair with medicine. This book is about mine.

One Doctor is a true story about real people — most of which took place during two weeks in the winter of 2010. It recounts, in sometimes intimate detail, my doctoring of patients in the wards, emergency department, and intensive care unit of a renowned teaching hospital in New York City. These experiences exemplify many of the challenges doctors and patients face today in the dramatic, high-tech world of modern medicine. But doctoring has changed, not just since Osler's time but during my own time, too. For this reason, my story flashes back to ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

"Feelings matter in medicine," Reilly writes, an opinion that pervades this entire work. One Doctor is gutsy and heartfelt, a recommended read for anyone interested not only in modern medicine but also one man's professional and personal journey, as instructive as it is inspirational.   (Reviewed by Suzanne Reeder).

Full Review Members Only (834 words).

Media Reviews

The Boston Globe

Reilly’s moving and eloquently written book will be sure to interest not just those working in the medical professions. “One Doctor’’ is simply a terrific read."

Publishers Weekly

This book is about more than the joy of saving lives and the sadness of losing them - it's an intimate exploration of modern medicine and the human condition.

Booklist

Reilly’s medical narrative nicely intertwines true stories of challenging patients with valuable lessons on doctoring and “patienthood.” Empathy and thoughtfulness—One Doctor has oodles of it.

New York Daily News

Reilly provides valuable insight into modern medicine as he relates his most challenging cases up to the present. Gripping and compassionate.

Author Blurb Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
A gripping memoir by a doctor's doctor. Reilly's career has taken him from inner city hospitals to remote rural practices. He writes movingly about what it is like on the front lines: the mysteries, the frustration and the rewards of his chosen calling. A must read for the general public and any young person contemplating a career in medicine.

Author Blurb Christiane Northrup, M.D., ob/gyn physician and author of the New York Times bestsellers, Women's Bodies and Women's Wisdom
One Doctor contains the essence of all of it: our humanity and nobility – and why we are all entranced by medical dramas of every kind. A stunning book.

Author Blurb Lisa Sanders, New York Times columnist and author of Every Patient Tells a Story
Extraordinary up-close story-telling. Brendan Reilly takes us bedside to witness the dramas and dilemmas of everyday medicine. One Doctor is a love story about a man and his lifelong passion for the mysteries and miracles of medicine.

Author Blurb Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink, The Tipping Point, and Outliers
"Brendan Reilly has written a beautiful book about a forgotten subject – what it means for a physician to truly care for a patient. One Doctor shows why this matters today more than ever before.

Reader Reviews

CJPMD

Real world drama and excitement from a humble modern hero
This book would be great even if it weren't a true story, but being a true story makes it even more outstanding. The reader goes with Dr. Brendan Reilly, a modern master of medicine, as he rounds in a big-city hospital and his small-town office, ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Somatization

Somatization—the conversion of a mental state (such as depression or anxiety) into physical symptoms—is extraordinarily common, according to Dr. Brendan Reilly, who writes about it (among other health concerns) in his book One Doctor: Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine.

This broad medical term encompasses many illnesses, including recognized "somatic symptom and related disorders" described in the fifth, and most recent, edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Somatization affects women and men of all ages and cultures. It's common for people suffering from somatization to complain, over a period of years, of multiple symptoms that have ...

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