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Five Patients

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  4,731 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
ER has become the most successful television series in the world since Charlie's Angels. Michael Crichton created the series from his own experiences as a medical doctor in the emergency rooms, operating rooms and wards of Massachusetts General Hospital. Five Patients is Michael Crichton's true account of the real life dramas so vividly portrayed in ER. A construction work ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 13th 1989 by Ballantine Books (first published June 1970)
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Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Michael Crichton started his career as a medical student but veered towards writing as he became more and more dissatisfied with his chosen profession (see: Travels for more info). Five Patients, one of his earliest works and one of his handful of non-fiction books, is not only a look at a modern (keep in mind the book was written in 1970) hospital but also serves as Crichton's denunciation of some troubling problems in the practice of medicine. Crichton's research is thorough as always and some ...more
Sep 02, 2013 rated it liked it
I love Michael Crichton books. He is one of my favorite authors and many of his books rank among the top couple books on my list. However, this book is not one of them. Upon reading the back cover before buying the book, I believed I picked up a thriller that combines cutting edge science and technology. I quickly found that I would be sorely disappointed.

The name of the book basically is what the plot is entirely about. It focuses on five different cases of patients at the Massachusetts General
Book Concierge
From the back cover: A construction worker in his fifties is seriously injured in the collapse of a scaffold. A middle-aged railroad dispatcher develops a high fever that makes him wildly delirious. A young worker nearly severs his hand from his arm in an accident. A woman traveling alone has persistent chest pain and is treated by a doctor on a TV screen. A mother of three is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease.

My reactions
These five patients’ cases are used to illustrate the workings of
3,5 stars
Kathy Hiester
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
I work in the healthcare field and I thought that I was getting a fiction book my Michael Crichton. Imagine my surprise when I realized that I had a nonfiction and interesting read. The funny part is that I had no clue that this author actually created the TV series ER. The story encompasses five patients, a construction worker in his fifties who is seriously injured in the collapse of a scaffold, a middle-aged railroad dispatcher who develops a high fever that makes him wildly delirious, a youn ...more
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I remember getting this from my library since a friend recommended it to me. I have always found medicine a very interesting field (only to read about, though), and my first surprise was how easy this book was to read. And the second surprise was how the statistics have been presented, to represent healthcare as an industry. It reminds the reader that although intentions may be noble, no profession exists for the sole cause of charity. It also reminds you that a hospital is not a non-profit plac ...more
Die Vorlage für die TV-Serie "Emergency Room". Allerdings haben diese beiden Sachen - außer der Idee - nichts weiter miteinander zu tun.
Stattdessen beschreibt der Autor, der einst selbst Medizin studierte bevor er ein Bestseller-Autor wurde, wie das Leben in einer Notaufnahme ist. Zu diesem Zweck werden die Fälle von fünf verschiedenen Patienten geschildert. Neueste medizinische Entwicklungen kommen ebenso zur Sprache wie das Sozialsystem der USA. Das ganze ist in einem sehr dokumentarischen St
My first non-fiction work of Mister Crichton. I plowed through his fiction works in my (very) early twenties, originally borrowing them from a co-worker. After I ran through his collection, I went on to buying my own used Crichton books until I was pretty much out of options.

I picked up Five Patients at Goodwill for fifty cents on half price Saturday. Moving through it pretty quickly, I was swept away by the stories included in it, and even more so, I was taken in by just how much WORSE our heal
David Meyer
A fascinating look into the world of a hospital. It is not so much a look at 5 interesting cases as much as it is a look at the way though cases effect the surrounding environment of the hospital itself. This is all accompanied by interesting looks into the history of how this all came to be.
Kirsten Karlen
Jul 29, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: popreads
Earlier Michael Crichton, an interesting read. Despite being so pop-culture, I have to admit a weakness for MC because he's a science nerd and so am I. :)
Apr 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
This gives you an interesting insight into his medical years. It was interesting.
Paulina Sanchez
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
It's widely known that Michael Crichton started off as a medical doctor and then transitioned into writing. In Five Patients we get his perspective on the medical field, specifically patient care and the way hospitals are run.

This book was first written in 1970 when Crichton was 28, which is important since we take a look at how medicine was done at that time, what the worries of the future were in regards to the evolution of patient care and how hospitals would run decades later. His insights r
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
(+) An interesting way of discussing problems relating to the American healthcare system and the way in which hospitals are run by using five different patients as examples – though this takes away much of the focus from the patients themselves. Although this book was written quite awhile ago now, even the updated foreword is now over 20 years old, some of the issues (particularly with insurance) are still applicable today whilst for others (like concerns over whether or not patients are able to ...more
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
It starts as an interesting read that shows some interesting facts about the development of medicine through time. The author uses five different cases to further illustrate this.

Unfortunately the last quarter of the book becomes a rant about studying medicine and becomes a bit... long-winded and boring.
Helen Yee
A little dated (this was first published in 1970) but still provided some interesting insights. Was intriguing to see the use of closed circuit TV medical consultations which, as far I know, have not really taken off since.
Jul 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I get the appeal of this book and I love Crichton (probably my favorite author), but this just wasn't for me. Well written and some fascinating stuff, but I could take it or leave it.
Laura (bookendell_)
They forget perhaps that medicine is for the people, not for the doctors

Well this was interesting despite being quite outdated, and quite boring at times.
Aug 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Michael Crichton wrote this book in 1970, when a month-long stay in a hospital, fully inclusive, cost around $6,000. This was also the average patient's yearly salary, but most patients had insurance, welfare programs, or went to a teaching hospital (at that time used by the poor as private patients didn't want to be treated by a team of doctors and students). The author decried escalating costs and how much things were going to have to make medicine affordable and a right for all. H ...more
S.W. Gordon
Nov 15, 2014 rated it liked it
An interesting historical perspective on healthcare circa 1970. It's amazing how little has changed 45 years later---add a few zeros to the costs, factor in defensive medicine and the lack of tort reform, watered-down universal healthcare. A lot of the innovations that Crichton foresaw have been killed by the omnipresent threat of lawsuits and unabated governmental intrusion. Computers could have revolutionized medical care but are primarily used for billing purposes and data collection for paye ...more
Jishnu Bhattacharya
Nov 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
When I picked this book up, I didn't even know that it was non fiction. I wanted some whirlwind Crichton story to escape the exams. After starting I thought that I wouldn't continue after a few pages. However, those few pages were all it took me.
This is a brilliant book from cover to cover. The different aspects of the hospital are brought forth with reference to five specific patients. I almost felt like being a part of the day to day operations of the hospital, even though I have no medical tr
Scott Marley
Jun 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: michael-crichton
non-fiction work here about hospitals rather than '5 patients'. I found fascinating the frontier days of hospitals. I never thought how these facilities began only how I see them now.
some areas of the reading were dull due to outdated guesses by MC of future methods in hospitals.
what you're getting most times is in depth realities of everyday hospital life as of the 1960s, which is interesting but being not current hurts a bit. the writing style is straightforward and not thrilling as with MC f
Max Ostrovsky
May 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: pop, non-fiction
My star rating is skewed based on I didn't get what I was expecting or wanting from this book. While well-written, it just didn't hold my attention and I trudged my way through it.
I knew it was non-fiction and I was expecting a mix of the shows "ER" (which Crichton created)and the medical mysteries of "House."
Instead, Crichton chose five patients that weren't medically interesting in the least - just every day possible ailments and did absolutely nothing with the drama of seeking aid and healt
Heino Colyn
This book was definitely not what I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised. Crichton doesn't investigate and discuss the cases of 5 patients, he briefly gives some detail and then use them to transition into trends and different topics of medicine and hospitals in general. Five Patients contains a lot of detail and insights but the information is broken down and presented in a way that is easy to read. It was interesting to see that a lot of problems that the medical industry faced at the ...more
Alyssa Melvaine
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was expecting interesting case studies but was disappointed as these were mundane common occurrences. The book is a good historical collection of medical care in the 1960's but wasn't what I was expecting. I read the patient stories which were really only introductory to the points Crichton wanted to make about the current issues in health care (and by current we are talking 1960's). I skimmed over the points he made as it was not what I was after - I am a huge fan of Crichton's work but the b ...more
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The cases were commonplace and only vaguely related to the topics he chose to discuss per chapter. Additionally, the last chapter read like a long-winded essay, much like when a speaker drones on much beyond his allotted time. To be honest, by saying I "finished" this book, I mean I got to about p200 something and gave up on the last 10 pages or so because they were neither relevant to present-day medicine nor effective as a historical representation. In short, there was no point. The other chap ...more
Jan 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
To be honest, I expected a thrilling medical drama about the intertwined cases of five patients with a new and scary disease, or something like that. I never expected that this book would instead show the inner workings of a Massachusetts hospital. I was only a little disappointed, Michael Crichton managed to make the seemingly boring into something that managed to keep my attention. Weaving in stories of five different patients with facts and figures about the medical field, Crichton uses his s ...more
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Despite the age the information, many of the central concepts about the hospital, physicians, and medical care still hold true. It certainly opened my eyes a bit more to how much development has occurred in medicine in the last 40 years. However, it also showed how certain dreams of the future of medicine have been impeded by money, politics, and medical tradition. Overall, it is a great book to understand medical history. Just try to put yourself in that time period (teletypes, paper medical re ...more
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
What an odd book! It's stated as a medical thriller and the basis for the TV series ER, however it was actually an insight into the Massachusetts General Hospital, full of heavy medical jargon and facts and figure for American medical history.

Each chapter starts with an emergency senario, but then desolves into what is right or wrong about medical practices in the US, or how things should or shouldn't be dealt with.

Interesting, but not a thriller by any stretch of the imagination, and little to
David Powell
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you decide to read this book because you love Crichton's fiction, you may be either pleasantly surprised of just disappointed. Before Crichton ever created any of his now-famous fiction he was a medical student, and this book is a product of that. Taking that into consideration, it is an excellent book and gives the lay reader astute insight into what goes on in a hospital (in this case, a very good one). The five patients represent a spectrum of medical issues. Each patient frames a separate ...more
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Michael Crichton (1942–2008) was one of the most successful novelists of his generation, admired for his meticulous scientific research and fast-paced narrative. He graduated summa cum laude and earned his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1969. His first novel, Odds On (1966), was written under the pseudonym John Lange and was followed by seven more Lange novels. He also wrote as Michael Dougla ...more
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“Without question, the notion of the doctor as a legitimate fee-for-service entrepreneur, making his fortune from misfortunes of is patients, is old-fashioned, distasteful, and doomed.” 8 likes
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