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Books, Journals, New Media
December 8, 2004

Emergency Fiction

Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(22):2781-2786. doi:10.1001/jama.292.22.2784-b

Most patients with asthma, especially otherwise healthy teenagers, don’t arrive in the emergency department looking fairly good and then proceed to have a cardiac arrest—thus the surprise (and skepticism) of Dr Malcolm Ishmail, the protagonist of this mystery, whose already troubled life has just taken another turn for the worse as this book begins.

Dr Ishmail is a former general surgery resident who was dismissed from his training program for, among other things, questioning the competency of an attending neurosurgeon. He currently moonlights in a variety of small town emergency departments where “nothing ever happens”—except, it seems, when he is on call.