From My Bookshelf: The Night Shift – Real Life in the Heart of the ER

By Lynn Willoughby

The Night Shift: Real Life in the Heart of the ER ~ Dr Brian Goldman

You may have listened to Dr Brian Goldman’s CBC Radio show “White Coat, Black Art”. I always enjoy it as he attempts to demystify the medical profession, explain what goes on behind closed doors and explain that doctors are not gods on a pedestal.  This book is very much the same.
Dr Goldman is an ER doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.  He works the night shift and has for decades. This book show us a wide variety of traumas that are, unfortunately, common in the ER.  It gives us Goldman’s take on how those in the waiting room are triaged, why waiting times often last several hours, how many patients per hour the doctor is expected to see, how helpful, or unhelpful, nurses are to the doctor, the fine line doctors face when calling for a consult in the wee hours, the notes that must be made on each patient seen, the load taken on by the residents in a teaching hospital.  I found all of it fascinating.
The book is very readable, even for those like myself with no medical background.  ER doctors are often juggling as many as fifteen patients at one time.  Decisions regarding the diagnosis must often be made in minutes.  Choice of drugs and treatment are often time dependent.  Then there are the problems with the patient themselves – those who lie, those who only want narcotics, those who are there to spend the night off the street and in a warm bed for the night, those with mental illnesses, those who don’t speak English, or those who want to die.
This book is “Written with Goldman’s trademark honesty and with surprising humour.”  It is frank and deals with many issues facing the medical profession.  It is humane, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes shocking, but always honest.
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Who Knew?

Stimulant medications such as Ritalin, have been prescribed for decades to treat ADHD, but their popularity as “cognitive enhancers” has recently surged among the healthy, including over worked, fatigued ER doctors.