7 Mar 2017

book review: do no harm by henry marsh

On the whole, I try not to read too many 'medic books' but I borrowed Do No Harm by Mr Henry Marsh from my friend after hearing rave reviews about it.

Do No Harm is a memoir of Mr Marsh's time, mainly as a consultant neurosurgeon. Each chapter follows at least one case, through which a learning point often manifests itself - be it that the operation should never have proceeded or that the National Health Service (NHS) is becoming more and more fractured.

Neurosurgery is a field that can seem daunting to those not in the medical field. Mr Marsh does a good job of simplifying things down as much as possible without omitting the parts of a medical journey that every healthcare worker goes through (such as the emotions and perpetual internal question of 'am I doing the right thing?'). It was interesting to read about the cases that he remembers the most and why, as I'm sure he'll have done more than several hundred cases throughout his whole career! Having spent several days at a neuro-disability hospital on placement earlier on in medical school, it brought back some memories and feelings of my own. Even now, I'm a strong advocate of the best outcome for the patient and if this means doing 'nothing', then that's fine. And that's the message I got from a few of the cases he discusses.

Speckled within the book, there are a few sprinklings of his private life and how they were affected by his career and vice versa.

Overall, this book was brilliantly written and I really like the way he's made each chapter about a patient (or two) - a great way to remind us that patients are also individuals and not just a hospital/NHS number. A solid 9/10 from me, especially because I didn't expect to like it (as I'm not a big fan of what I call 'medic books'!).

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