cover image INCIDENTAL FINDINGS: Lessons from My Patients in the Art of Medicine

INCIDENTAL FINDINGS: Lessons from My Patients in the Art of Medicine

Danielle Ofri, . . Beacon, $23.95 (181pp) ISBN 978-0-8070-7266-0

Ofri, an attending physician at New York City's Bellevue Hospital and founder of the Bellevue Literary Review, again displays the same sensitivity and carefully crafted writing that distinguished her first medical memoir (Singular Intimacies ). The emphasis in these 14 engrossing pieces is on her determination to learn from those she has treated. Ofri begins by recounting a time when the shoe was on the other foot, when she, as a first-time expectant mother, was the patient. After a sonogram, Ofri and her husband were rather casually told that their baby's umbilical cord was missing one artery. Her disorientation and anxiety that day deepened her ability to empathize with those who are ill. In "A Day in the Clinic," she describes how a language barrier left her unable to effectively comfort an Asian man with a brain tumor. In the especially moving "Terminal Thoughts," Ofri intuits that a woman's signature on a Do Not Resuscitate order and her refusal of dialysis were rooted in depression. Ofri reworks her pain medications and extracts a promise that the patient will stay on dialysis. The patient will not be cured, but Ofri's goal is not to provide happy endings; rather, she aims to wed compassion to medical training and knowledge, to recall her ongoing struggles to understand the sick and to make their lives more bearable. (Apr.)