The truism goes ""a hospital is no place to be when you are sick"" but Gots and Kaufman, both physicians, approach the dilemma with full understanding of consumer issues, medical necessity and expedience, and their book thoroughly distinguishes reasonable expectations from pipe dreams. Emergency room staffs, for example, must perform with robot-like efficiency to function best; loving support is not indicated on the chart and interested bystanders are rarely welcome during examinations. Ideally, elective patients can prepare to some degree, discussing financing beforehand (many hospitals now require substantial deposits), meeting surgeons and anaesthesiologists (especially important) and inquiring about their credentials. For routine or minor procedures, a local hospital will generally suffice; for more complicated problems, a trip to a distant hospital with a battery of experienced specialists is often worth the inconvenience. Throughout, using sample cases, the authors demonstrate that they know what makes a patient's blood boil, and they indicate not only when complaints are genuine but also how to make them heard--who to go to in the hospital hierarchy. And they consider the more rapidly changing wards--obstetrics, pediatrics, intensive care. A finely discriminating consumer guide which sees the gray areas as well as the whites.