February 4, 1983

Emergency Room

Author Affiliations

Northwestern Memorial Hospital Chicago


by Randall Sword, 224 pp, $12.95, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1982.

JAMA. 1983;249(5):653. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330290071036

This is a book of folkways and fables of the clan Emergency, one of a series of increasingly popular ethnologic explorations into the tribe of Medicine. It is written in a conversational style, reflecting the experiences and philosophies of a single tribesman, but it rings true against the developing archetype as well.

The author projects a likable personality—open and engaging, generally human and humane, a raconteur of resuscitation with tales for all occasions. His style is straightforward, his feelings strong, and he keeps your attention with the force of personality. The situations he describes are accurate, and his explanations for the medically unsophisticated are generally good. In fact, he is an excellent model of the physician who instructs: a special skill, increasingly appreciated by patients, which consists of demystifying medical arcana without devaluing the reader.

The tales reflect the setting: a medium-sized hospital in a mediumsized urban area, where the