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on October 11, 2010
Hidden somewhere in the book's introduction is the sobering sentence, "Sooner or later most of you are going to need the services of someone like me." For me, that statement has been verified more than once. And so, I'm grateful to Dr. Goldman for sharing in such a clear and engaging format what it's like "on his side of the gurney".

The E.R. experience is tense enough without the exaggeration we witness in TV dramas. Even though the night shift depicted in the book is really an elaborate composite, I would think it's a good a sample as any. Being recounted in the first person, as opposed to the common alternative (reporting/journalism style) lends it a much deeper, humane aspect.

I particularly like the balanced and highly empathetic view Dr. Goldman takes in his book. He doesn't pander to gore and unlikely theatrics, and uses few literary mechanisms such as "little did I know". Humour and seriousness are well blended. He balances empathy and respect with reasoning and calculated choices. The story is easy to follow and it gets into medical details only to the extent they are needed to explain situations. And in more than one place the story surprisingly digs into Dr. Goldman's own personal history and sometimes painful experiences, which heighten my appreciation for his truly demanding work.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever been or might be an E.R. patient. And if you have been a regular listener of his "White Coat, Black Art" show on CBC, let me assure you this book does not duplicate what you heard there. You might recognize a few details or a couple of stories, but this book is something else!
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on January 12, 2012
I have read a great deal of medical nonfiction and find accounts of life in the ER to be of particular interest. It's difficult to find such books written by Canadian authors, so I was excited to hear Dr. Goldman's perspective on our health care system. I found it to be an absorbing read, and well-written aside from a few typos. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who's a fan of this genre.
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on December 25, 2013
Probably one of the most interesting non fiction book to read about the lives of doctors and the constant battle they go through in the field of medicine. The thing that separates this book from others is the way it is written. Goldman is clearly a fantastic story teller who is able to keep you captivated as he gives detailed accounts of stories in the ER. The entire book is a sequential journal of one shift on the ER. Goldman introduces a patient story from that shift and then delves into the principles, moral issues, values, etc. of practicing medicine. Finally at the end of each entry corresponding to the time during the shift or the chapter, he refers back to the original patient story and drives home his valuable message.

I found at times that Goldman comes off conceited; however, he is not shy to admit the times when he was wrong or had made a mistake. I couldn't put the book down as Goldman again is very adept at telling stories of a true experience of an ER physician here in Canada
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on September 25, 2012
I did not have high hopes for this book before I opened it although I had already formed an extremely favourable opinion of Dr Brian Goldman through his radio and television journalism in Canada. I thought that The Night Shift would be just another diverting memoir linking anecdote to incident to event with the odd comic patient thrown in for relief.

Instead I discovered an open and honest account of life as an ER doctor told with much insight.

Dr Goldman doesn't just describe some amusing, interesting, or horrific incident and then move on to the next; he brings up a central message in what has happened and explores its meanings and ramifications. And it is done with a clear and self deprecating tone through solid writing.

A couple of examples. When describing his medical mistakes due to sleep deprivation at one point he goes beyond just the event to bring in the thoughts and findings of others concerned with the issue. He then expands on what chronic sleeplessness means in other areas of society and from it draws well considered conclusions, all nicely framed within what would have been just a glib tale.

He does the same thing for pain management. After describing how he dealt with an emergency patient who falsely claimed to have lost a prescription for a narcotic and wanted a refill, he then talks with experts in the field of pain management, gets into the politics of pain, its relationship with drug companies, and the moral questions behind either providing that patient with medication or refusing it.

It is an excellent book. I cannot speak for Dr Goldman's expertise as a doctor, although I wouldn't hesitate for a second to consult him if I needed it, but I have spent more than 30 years as a broadcast journalist and I rate him as one hell of a journalist just on the strength of this book.

Seek out his weekly radio show White Coat Black Art on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 9, 2012
Story Description:

HarperCollins|September 3, 2010|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-55468-391-8

Dr. Brian Goldman is both an emergency room physician at Mount Sinai and a prominent medical journalist. Never one to shy away from controversy, Goldman specializes in kicking open the doors to the medical establishment revealing what really goes on behind the scenes - and in the minds of doctors and nurses.

In The Night Shift, Goldman shares his experiences in the witching hours at Mount Sinai Hospital in downtown Toronto. We meet the kinds of patients who walk into an ER after midnight: late night revellers injured on their way home after last call, teens assaulted in the streets by other teens and a woman who punches another woman out of jealousy over a man. But Goldman also reveals the emotional, heartbreaking side of everyday ER visits: adult children forced to make life and death decisions about critically ill parents, victims of sexual assault, and mentally ill and homeless patients looking for understanding and a quick fix in the twenty-four hour waiting room. Written with Goldman's trademark honesty and with surprising humour, The Night Shift is also a frank look at many issues facing the medical profession today, and offers a highly compelling inside view into an often shrouded world.

My Review:

This was an absolutely phenomenal book! Dr. Goldman blows the lid off what really goes on inside the Emergency Room for those inquiring minds who want to know. Goldman is frank, honest and doesn't mince words about both the good and bad sides of his profession.

The decisions, quick thinking and the speed at which these doctors and nurses often have to work is staggering. When you're in the position of trying to save someone's life you don't have time to stand around and take a lot of time to think of your best options. At times, you just have to go with the flow so to speak.

I feel terribly sorry for the mentally ill who are often misunderstood and don't always get a sympathetic or understanding ear at the emergency department and Goldman admits that. Some just don't have the patience to administer to the needs and requirements of these people in society which is sad. It must be very frustrating for the patient.

The Night Shift was a riveting read and kept me glued from the first page to the last page and quite frankly, I didn't want it to end. I wanted more stories. I'll definitely be recommending this to friends and family.
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on November 5, 2013
As an aspiring med student I found Dr. Goldman's accounts of working in the ER to be incredibly honest and inspiring. I loved his openness about his mistakes and how he learned from those mistakes to become the incredible doctor he is today.
One thing I found to be somewhat off putting was his constant reference to how tired he is. Of course it can be tiring working at night and there are a lot of people who do, so to complain about the lack of energy seemed odd. He says he is working two full time jobs with his radio show getting a lot of his time as well. Perhaps it's too much having both on the go?
Aside from that it was a fantastic read and really a great reflection on the life of an ER doctor.
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Anyone visiting an ER is probably frightened & in pain & the last thing on your mind is an inept or sleep-deprived doctor who is not up to the task of making you better.

Dr. Goldman has written a medical text that is easy to read by any non-medical person. Told in a conversational style he imparts some of his experiences as an ER night shift doctor in a Toronto hospital - he explores the inner workings of a big city ER that patients & outsiders never see. He does so with a touch of humour & a show of compassion which is admirable. Explaining what goes on behind the scenes may not make you feel any better, but at least you may have a better understanding of the enormity of what the doctors & nurses are faced with on a regular basis.

I am grateful to Dr. Goldman for confirming my belief that there are doctors who suffer from a "God-complex". Doctors who should not be doctors in my view. `First do no harm' is not a concept they grasp.

My logical mind says that doctors are human & thereby are prone to make mistakes, but that's the last thing I want to think about when I'm sick. This book is a revelation about how many mistakes can/do occur & why some of these mistakes happen. It puts into black & white, a very frightening fact right from `the horse's mouth' so to speak.

This book relates to an Ontario hospital & makes clear that that system is in desperate need of repair. Not an uncommon view for some time now which has, to date, only attracted lip-service from those charged with making the system better. However, it would not be outlandish to suppose that similar circumstances exist elsewhere.

Going to an ER is really much like buying a Lottery ticket. If you are lucky you get a doctor like Dr. Goldman & hopefully at a point before he/she is feeling the effects of sleep-depravation. If not, who knows? It is, by the way, not the fault of the doctor that he/she is sleep-deprived; it is 99% the fault of the system. Reading this book may give you some insight into what to expect if you should ever find yourself in an ER at midnight.
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Using the pretext of explaining a typical night in the ER, Goldman's new book does just that and more. Stepping the reader through a typical shift and the typical patients that walk into an ER, this books goes beyond that level and also looks at some of the issues behind health care, changes in the way we handle health issues in Canada (and the rest of the world), as well as what makes a doctor tick when they are working 80-100 hours a week.

Goldman describes a typical parade of patients, managing to hit on all the usual types of people who wander into an ER (and usefully explaining the terms behind their conditions and why they ended up that way). But along the way the narrative sidetracks looks at why ERs are backed up, why nurses do what they do, why doctors ask the same questions as nurses, why some patients are treated with more respect than others, and why every doctors both loves and hates their work. The discourses into specific illnesses (there's quite a bit about psychiatrics, for example) and the state of health care and big pharma all add to the story,

And it's a solidly written story. Goldman has his doctor career and his media career, and while he talks about that in the book, it's the narrative of the hospital ER itself that drives the book forward. The story is both readable and engrossing. I found myself laid on a couch over a weekend, listening to music and reading the entire book in two sittings, quite engrossed in the story. As one who's been there, I understand what he's talking about on both a professional and an emotional, personal level: doctors are a special breed, for the most part, and this starts to show why we do this job and find it hard to walk away at the end of a shift. I would imagine for those who don't understand the subject as much as I do, the book will be even more useful.

Overall, well written, informative, and full of little stories (both good and bad) that will engross. I really enjoyed reading The Night Shift.
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on June 25, 2013
Absolutely loved this boo, very thorough writer and I have already shared it with my girlfriends :) It came in amazing condition as well :)
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on May 30, 2014
A great read with a good flow. Covers one night shift and the types of patients who visit the emergency room in the week hours. I would recommend this book for anyone who wonders what goes on behind the curtains. Not too technical so those with no medical background would enjoy.
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