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Doctor turned patient urges peers to treat patients better

| Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, 9:00 p.m.

Critical-care physician Rana Awdish was used to helping dying patients, not being one.

Then she found herself in the ER, hemorrhaging nearly all of her blood.

By the time she left the hospital, she had miscarried and come near death. She endured five major surgeries, complications and months of recovery. Awdish, who was treated at her own hospital, emerged from her ordeal with a sense of shock at the way she had been treated by her fellow physicians.

Awdish's book “In Shock: My Journey From Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope” (St. Martin's Press, $25.99) uses her harrowing health saga as the jumping-off point for a plea to physicians to become more emotionally sensitive to their patients.

When physicians doubt their patients, minimize their pain and label them “difficult,” argues Awdish, they harm instead of heal. And patients aren't the only ones to suffer from a lack of compassion. Awdish makes the case that physicians hurt themselves by turning away from the emotions that accompany life and death in their clinical practice.

Awdish challenges her peers to face down the ghosts of fear, shame and blame to create a more humane standard of care.

Awdish's story is grueling: a catastrophic miscarriage, multiple organ failure, the uncertainty that accompanies a sudden medical crisis. “In Shock” searches almost desperately for a glimmer of hope in life's darkest moments, and finds it. By moving toward the pain instead of away from it, she suggests, physicians can become even better at their jobs — and patients can find redemption in their deepest pain.

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