Kirkus Reviews A LICENSE TO HEAL Random Memories of an ER Doctor Bentley, Steven iUniverse (142 pp.) $11.95 paperback, $3.99 e-book ISBN: 978-1491730072; April 4, 2014 BOOK REVIEW An emergency room physician recalls his eventful career in this insightful, occasionally harrowing, memoir. Despite the subtitle, debut author Bentley’s reminiscences are hardly random. They have been selected to succinctly or dramatically convey the progression of a decadeslong career. Leaving out personal details unless relevant to his anecdotes, Bentley emerges as a compassionate doctor who sympathizes with his patients, including those who have allowed their bodies to fall apart. He is also empathetic; for example, he rails against oncologists offering “the promise of ‘more life’ ” without mentioning the horrible side effects that a patient might endure from a last-resort cancer treatment. Bentley, however, acknowledges that many ER admissions and treatments reflect the pressure from health care corporations to keep their hospitals as busy as possible—whether treatment or even, in some cases, admission are justified. Sometimes, questionable admissions, like that of a patient who didn’t have any discernible blood pressure because he was dead, illustrate incompetence rather than corporate greed. But Bentley also encountered many “patients” seeking treatment for fictitious problems solely to obtain a particular painkiller or to avoid a court date or some other selfish motive, which only added to the burdens of a largely broken health care system. The horrors documented here include a lab tech discarding blood samples and returning to the magazine he was reading; the “wallet biopsies,” in which insurance policies dictate treatment; and malpractice suits filed almost automatically when ER patients die. Despite some misspellings (“beaurocratic”), the writing is effective; Bentley emerges as the doctor everyone would want in a medical emergency. An invaluable inside look at the realities of the U.S. health care system


Reader Reviews

Very interesting read August 9, 2014 via Connie Montague on Very interesting read, although I must admit I am drawn to non-fiction books about the trials it become to become a doctor. I found the authors “Random Memories” very interesting and it makes me wonder why anyone would go through what they have to to become a respected person in the medical field.

A delightful read, June 25, 2014 via JWise on You often wonder what goes through the mind of an ER Doctor working so many different patients. I’ve worked EMS and Fire Rescue bringing many of these patients to the ER. Sometimes we just can’t get an intubation and the ER Doc. just slips it right in. Dr. Bentley would be one of the ER Docs. you would want to see waiting for you when working EMS. Somebody that cared about the patients and cares about us First Responders trying as part of the team to treat and preserve. I especially liked his trauma cases. He describes how you do what you can do but when the damage is too much its over. His empathy for the unfortunate is heartwarming too.

Random Memories of an ER Doctor, June 5, 2014 by Step on License to Heal has the following as a subtitle, Random memories of an ER Doctor which I think is very apt. My feeling as I read this book was as if the author were sitting across a table in a coffee shop telling of his experiences over the past 33 years. Within these eight chapters, the reader will laugh, cry and become enraged. Although Dr. Bentley moved many times, his practice was all in North Carolina, mostly in small rural hospitals. He does an excellent job of helping the reader through the medical language whether it be common or obscure terminolotg to someone not affiliated with the medical field. For example: prognosis, (outcome) we all know that one and then there is pulse oximeters (to show oxygen level in the blood), Huh? As you read about these real human beings and their medical issues, you’ll find yourself wanting to know what happened after they left the Emergency Department (ED). This must be the nature of this type of work; the physician treats and releases when needed. the patient moves on their merry or not so merry way. There are a few stories where there was follow up, for example; A mother came back to the ED to thank Dr. Bentley for helping her young daughter. Unfortunately there are too many that you do know what happened next because they didn’t make it. Yes, they died, and there is a lot of death in this book. It makes one thankful for those who choose this profession even though they know it’s going to be tough at times. Dr. Bentley is now retired and jaded by the fact that medicine has become corporate. This is evidenced by the powers that be who told him he did not make enough money for them and that he no longer saw patients, rather they were customers.
Quote: “What did I learn after all these years in the ER? It is a time-worn cliche, and a univeersal truth, that needs to be relearned frequently. Life truly is precious, and so very brief.

One surprise was his comments on the VA and Government employees. Many will scream “unfair”. But if you have ever tried to get a patient with chest paint admitted to a VA Emergency Department only to hear over the radio “we are on diversion till Monday morning” you know what he is talking about. Watching my Dad die in a VA facility with an abdominal bleed prompted me to become an EMT and move on up the training ladder. I was surprised Doctors see the same thing we see from the street (EMS service) in working with the VA.

His work experience covers hospitals in NC and I’ll bet (from one description) possible just over the mountain border in Tennessee. I’ve called on most of those hospitals in a support capacity for Cardiology software and his descriptions are dead on. Its like you were there as he worked on those folks and dealt with the “kin”. Scary stuff described well. In all. this book is an excellent read for anyone curious about the real world of the ER. He writes in an abbreviated fashion moving quickly from case to case. But then that is exactly how Emergency Medicine works. You patch the holes and stem the flow. Then move on. He describes it amazingly well.

Another real plus for a book like this is he hasn’t hired “professional reviewers” to bump up 5 star ratings. You know, the reviewers with only one book review and often start out with “I had this book and loaned it to a friend. And now its gone forever.” Really… on a Kindle. Thank you for letting us valid readers give you the good ratings you deserve for this work. How about write some more on the subject.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s