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Stories of Intensive Care: Medical Challenges and Ethical Dilemmas in Real Patients

Lawrence Martin

"Stories of Intensive Care" is a series of 23 stories about real patients cared for in the intensive care unit. The author, a retired pulmonary (lung) physician, directed the Mt. Sinai Hospital of Cleveland’s Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) in the 1980s and 1990s. Each story highlights a medical challenge or ethical dilemma he encountered. The first chapter gives an overview of intensive care rounds, how the MICU operates, and what happens, when, during MICU rounds, a patient's heart suddenly stops beating. Succeeding chapters are devoted to one or two patients and the challenges they present. Like Harold Switek, too ill to leave MICU, too psychotic to stay. And Willie the Yellow Man, whose love affair with alcohol exceeded anything you’ve ever seen. You’ll meet a young socialite hospitalized with rapid onset of total paralysis and wonder (as we did): will she ever hug her kids again? And another woman about to have her baby during a terrifying asthma attack. Then there’s the young accountant who slept in a coma—for six months! In “The Red Baron” Dr. Martin tells the strange saga of a man who claimed to be coughing up blood, only that wasn’t his real problem. Another patient, dubbed "The Wild Man," is deposited in the emergency department by a family member, who then disappears. The wild man is delirious, but why?
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