Often riveting, this case-by-case account of events in the trauma unit of Washington D.C.'s Children's Hospital National Medical Center covers not just personal tragedies, but also the political and medical intricacies of such a unit. In Shocktrauma, Doelp (also, Not Quite a Miracle and Autumn's Children) covered a similar unit set up for adults; here, he stresses a message of prevention to alert parents. "Accidental injury kills eight thousand children every year in the United States," Doelp tells us; in fact, "Accidental injury kills more children than all other causes combined." And on the treatment side, there is another important message for medical and health planners: there is a desperate need for specialized pediatric trauma centers—"Children are not miniature adults; they require special handling and special care when injured. If they don't get it, they often suffer as much damage from the treatment as from the injury." Such forthright language aside, Doelp's messages are all the more powerful when illustrated by the cases he describes. "The eyewitnesses differed on exactly how far little David Myers flew through the air after the car hit him, but their consensus was about fifty feet. . .David's father came charging out of the front door of their apartment, running like a madman. He was the first person to reach little David." David wasn't expected to live, but—luckily—he was taken to Children's Hospital, where he received state-of-the-art treatment and rehabilitation. This included counselling for his parents, who blamed themselves and each other for whoever had not been watching him in the seconds leading up to the accident—a real warning to others. David recovered, with some long-term problems. The other case stories are equally affecting, and Doelp intersperses them with descriptions of the dedicated medical, nursing, paramedical, and support personnel who fought to establish such a trauma center. And he continually reminds readers how rare these centers are—and how desperately needed to upgrade pediatric trauma care everywhere in this country. Engrossing medical reporting that brings home a vital message, in Doelp's familiar, urgent style.
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