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Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital

3.46  ·  Rating Details  ·  750 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
In the spirit of Oliver Sacks Awakenings and the TV series House, Dr. Eric Manheimer's TWELVE PATIENTS is a memoir from the Medical Director of Bellevue Hospital that uses the plights of twelve very different patients-from dignitaries at the nearby UN, to supermax prisoners from Riker's Island, to illegal immigrants, and Wall Street tycoons-to illustrate larger societal is ...more
Hardcover, 355 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2012)
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Aug 01, 2012 Katie rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was definitely worth picking up, but isn't going to stick in my mind as much as I thought it was. While the stories of the twelve patients were interesting, the writing bothered me. Manheimer is extremely verbose, and some of the tales come off as pretty convoluted, with an almost romantic, wispy writing style at times. It's as if he's writing in a style that he thinks is how writer's SHOULD sound, as opposed to his real voice. It especially irritated me when he used the same speaking ...more
Ted Lehmann
Feb 19, 2014 Ted Lehmann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: social policy, liking medical books, or general purpose readers of memoir and non-fiction
Recommended to Ted by: Bob Cook
In Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital (Grand Central Publishing/The Hatchette Group, 2013, 349 Pages, $9.99 Kindle edition) Dr. Eric Manheimer tells a story about the American health care system set in Bellevue Hospital, which is the oldest and largest hospital in the United States. As a public hospital it serves the needs of those populations not well-served by the huge infrastructure of America's hospital and larger medical industries. Through its vast doors come the immigran ...more
Nov 05, 2012 Trish rated it it was amazing
When embarking upon this book, I had seen a BBC2 programme about nursing in Mexico 'The Toughest Place to be a ... Nurse'

Although the Author is based in Bellevue in New York City, like that BBC2 programme this book was a real eye opener. In the space of one book he takes us beyond the walls of a busy hospital and shows us modern day America in terms of what you sow, so shall you reap!

The Author's detail in writing suggests a screenplay writer could take the characters off the page and transfer t
Feb 21, 2013 Claire rated it it was ok
Only a few chapters in and still interested, but the author could really have used an editor interested in cutting out the countless unnecessary details.

Finally finished and I'm not sure why I stuck with it. The patients' stories were interesting but the writing was not very good. The author wandered frequently, and while I love a good tangent, these did little to add to the story or my interest. He includes so many tiny details that do not need to be there. I think this book would have been gr
Oct 06, 2012 SF_Fangirl rated it did not like it
Shelves: library
This was a very disappointing read. It was not what I expected; it is not a tale of 12 medical mysteries (and certainly not in the spirit of House or Oliver Sacks.) The author was the Medical Director and was not the primary doctor in any of these cases. He tells the emotional story of these patients, but the medical diagnosis is unimportant and is simply introduced at the start of each story. He focuses on the larger social issues related to immigrants, poor, and prisoners. He also goes off on ...more
Esme Pie
Oct 13, 2012 Esme Pie rated it it was ok
Only kept reading because the patients were so interesting, both as illustrations of the kinds of cases that come to Bellevue, and as a lens through which to examine current topics in medicine today. I even liked the author's personal cancer story.
But the author is a horrible writer and could have been so easily helped by a good editor. First, time and sequence are hard to follow. The author was allowed to tell too much of his own personal (non-medical) story so that he comes across as super-hu
May 18, 2014 David rated it it was amazing
I've been on a kick reading books by doctors about the practice of medicine, and this is one of the finest. Far more than just a series of case histories, though it includes that, this is a literary text, as good as any book of fiction, with a strong voice, wonderfully wrought images and characters, and a goal of exploring the lives of people, both patients and doctors. I wish this author was a friend so that I could go out to dinner with him and just listen to his stories. Smart, engaging, full ...more
HAD to finish this book, if only to say I did. Did not enjoy this book. I liked the parts about pt. care, but the Backstory was frustrating. Every chapter had a lecture about how America deals with illegale immigrants, obesity,hospital budgets, pt. care in poor conditions. I'm familiar with medical terminology & procedures which was the only thing that kept me reading. Did not like being lectured to after each Pt. care. I found that the author used this book as a platform for his beliefs, wh ...more
Douglas Lord
Dec 13, 2014 Douglas Lord rated it it was amazing
Eric Manheimer, medical director at Bellevue Hospital, has been “in the business” so long that he has become concerned with more than just the medical end of things—he sees a larger Manheimer2002 The Bottom of the Heap | Books for Dudespicture in which social welfare meets medicine. The overall “healing” needs of patients encompass much more than the physical and the titular 12 provide a platform for the good doctor’s ponderings and conclusions. Consider J.G., a cancer-stricken prisoner convicte ...more
May 13, 2014 Melinda rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
I couldn't wait to read Twelve Patients. The jacket summary depicted a well rounded read with the luxury of a glimpse behind the scenes through Dr. Manheimer's experience during his tenure as director.

The patients profiled came from various walks of life and varying background and circumstances. The book also touched upon issues plaguing the medical community as well as social questions on these issues. Addressing the hot topics from the eyes of a professional medical practicer is enlightening e
Marathon County Public Library MCPL
What do a South American Immigrant, a cancer patient, and prisoners that live in New York all have in common? They all were somehow treated or impacted by the Bellevue Hospital. The author Eric Manheimer, writes about 12 different patients that he has treated and gotten to know during this time at the hospital, along with history about the medical field, the hospital itself, how the government influences the hospitals, and history about why so many immigrants came to New York. This book is a slo ...more
Melissa Dally
Sep 10, 2013 Melissa Dally rated it it was ok
Shelves: borrowed
Wow, this could've been so much better. The parts where he sticks to discussing the patients and their stories really is interesting. The parts where he digresses and goes off on tangents and tangents to those tangents is just boring. I wish they could clean this up, it would rate at least another star (two more stars if the parts where he gets judgmental were removed).
Matthew Dixon
Jul 28, 2012 Matthew Dixon rated it did not like it
Such a disappointment. The subject matter fascinates but the book goes off the rails almost immediately and stays there. The physician who wrote it has limited writing skills. the prose is dry and clinical. But more than that, every case chronicle comes back to the doctor himself and his own life, habits, loves, etc. Just way too self-absorbed.
Sep 30, 2014 Carolinemawer rated it liked it
What great material this author had! How barbarously he treated it!
Maybe the problem is that he is so definitely the chief that it never occurred to him that this book needed editing. Lots and lots (and lots) of editing!
One of the reasons I read this was to see how he handled confidentiality. He says he "deliberately disguised identities .. while leaving intact the essential circumstances". But surely he doesn't personally ship too many dying patients back to Mexico? If he does, that is story-wo
Gabriele Ott
Sep 03, 2013 Gabriele Ott rated it it was amazing
Great book! I've always enjoyed medical books for the scientific/medical aspects of them. But this book also teaches you about humility, history, compassion and just genuine caring. Well written and one could just hope to have a doctor like Eric Manheimer, who truly deeply cares about his profession after years and years.
Susan Olesen
Jun 23, 2014 Susan Olesen rated it it was ok
Eh? Took me almost a month to hack through it because it just never grabbed me. Not a "this is my daily insanity" book, but a very slow, thoughtful, evaluation of 12 cases he's dealt with. I've read much more exciting books about Bellevue. It boils down to this: All patients have a story; most seriously ill patients, whether disease or trauma-based, almost always have some major emotional/physical/mental trauma that brought them to the circumstances where they needed the hospitalization, and Doc ...more
Sep 29, 2015 Angela rated it it was ok
I found this book to be very dry. Yet, it is realistic in showing how draining and emotional it can be to work in the medical field if you truly still care for others. I worked in the medical field, and I've seen how many turn their emotions off or just don't care anymore like they have become numb. At times in the book I felt like we are being preached at for not caring more about immigrant issues. The way it was written actually turned me off, instead of making me care more about those issues. ...more
Jan 20, 2014 Emma rated it really liked it
A really fascinating read; Dr. Manheimer attempts, and mostly succeeds, at integrating short-story/journalistic profiles of individual patients with macro-size analysis of healthcare and social policy in America. His style, though, is not going to be to everybody's liking. I understand why he would want to frame things using conversations between himself and his patients, their families, and colleagues. But while his authorial voice is very strong, it may be too strong. When he is writing as "Ma ...more
Jan 26, 2016 Kristin rated it really liked it
As the medical director of Bellevue Hospital in New York City, Dr. Manheimer was witness to almost everything that happened within its doors for 14+ years, and he wrote this book to spotlight 12 patients and others like them whose hospital experiences run the gamut from a prisoner looking for compassionate release after his cancer is found to be terminal, an Ivy League grad student whose mental illness has him in and out of the psychiatric unit repeatedly, a Central American immigrant desperate ...more
Oct 26, 2015 Nancy rated it did not like it
I picked up this book because I found the title compelling. I figured it would be an interesting peek behind the storied walls of Bellevue by someone who's been there and done that. Yeah, not so much. Reading this was comparable to slogging through the waist high muddy swamp in that one film... you know which one I'm talking about...

The concept of this book is nice, in theory, each chapter highlights one patient's story and includes enough family details that you will very quickly lose track of
Oct 25, 2012 CD rated it it was ok
A 'life & death' memoir that contains both therapeutic and political statements by the author.

This was not exactly, or probably even vaguely what I expected when I started reading. A balanced slice of life work that perhaps leans a bit more towards the sadder and tragic part of life. Of course this is from Bellevue Hospital in New York. Along with Bellevue's great successes and happy moments there is indeed much from the other end of the spectrum.

Early in the book the comparisons between U.S
Jan 06, 2013 Gina rated it liked it
Interesting stories about the patients who come in to Bellevue Hospital, which is not just a mental hospital anymore. Somewhat depressing at times. There is often not a happy ending.
Got a little tired of the author's constant harping on how America (specifically, the war on drugs) has screwed up Mexico, Central and South America. Uh, I think those in charge of those countries themselves share some responsibility. America can't control everything.
His case study of an obese woman in a family full
Jun 08, 2013 AJ rated it liked it
Shelves: health-medicine
This book was written by the doctor who served as the head of Bellevue Hospital for about 15 years. I was really looking forward to reading it. Though I did enjoy it, I was a bit disappointed. It wasn't as good as I was expecting.

Each chapter addresses different social ills that society is facing, filtered through the patients and situations encountered at Bellevue which arguably sees most of these issues first hand because of its status as a public hospital in the biggest city in the country. I
Sep 30, 2013 Karen rated it liked it
The author, a former medical director, uses 12 patients (he's one of them; he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent chemo and radiation) as "windows" into 12 different systemic and ethical problems--illegal immigration, the foster care system, alcoholism, compliance, organ donation, etc. The writing is uneven at times; he ostensibly quotes patients, but their voices sound surprisingly like his own; and sometimes stories/chapters end with a strange abruptness. But I like this sort of book for t ...more
Jun 22, 2012 Tami rated it liked it
Really 3.5 stars.

Dr. Manheimer chose 12 stories from the potentially hundreds, maybe even thousands, of patient stories he could have told from his time as the medical director of Bellevue Hospital in NYC. In his own words: "... I chose the patients that illustrated different aspects of what are arguably among the critical contemporary issues in are society — those with global implications."

And so he did. Each of the tales he tells are infused not only with the medical details you'd expect, but
Nov 05, 2012 Terry rated it it was ok
Dr. Manheimer has his heart in the right place in writing this book, but overall, I was disappointed with it for several reasons.

First, I had the Audiobook version, and that led to a great degree of my disappointment. Dr. M reads his own book which is a disaster if you do not have the right voice to keep readers engaged. He doesn't. I found myself drifting away from it while I was listening because of his monotone voice and lack of expression. He sounded as if he was reading a bedtime story to h
Sep 03, 2012 Ariel rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I was so looking forward to reading this book but the execution did not live up to my expectations. I thought that twelve really fascinating House style cases would be laid out. The reality was more convoluted. The stories meandered and often included a lot of personal information about the author's own life, like his fight against cancer. He also likes to detail his food choices. It seems like every other page has a description of some food he's eaten or brought to a patient. A more competent e ...more
May 30, 2013 Zach rated it it was amazing
This is a great book, for medical people and anthropologically or sociologically interested folk as well.

Dr. Manheimer talks in great detail about a variety of patients and their deeper lives which do in fact represent a microcosm of the greater US medical population.

There IS a story behind every patient. Everyone you see in a hospital is in the throws of some life altering event and this warrants consideration.

This sums up my review...

"The past day was reverberating in my head and my body as I
Apr 26, 2014 Sheryl rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I don't remember what list I originally found this on, but I thought it would be like reading the New York Times' "Well" column - clever and interesting anecdotes about a doctor at a large city hospital with quirky characters.

Not even close.

Manheimer is the Medical Director at Bellevue hospital, which is the oldest public hospital in the country, and yes, the one that has the psych ward featured on Law and Order. The stories he tells are much more complex politically and socially than I expecte
Anna Kasm-tykhonova
Feb 03, 2014 Anna Kasm-tykhonova rated it it was amazing
Very thought provoking. The author views the patients as people, not as patients or clients ( which is sadly so common nowadays in healthcare). I wish more healthcare providers viewed their patients from such a humanistic, non judgmental perspective in order to help them more effectively. The author also does a fine job shining light on the recent changes in healthcare caused by the sluggish economy and the way it effected people's lives. Highly recommended.
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