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True Emergency Room Stories book cover

True Emergency Room Stories

Used copies of this book have sold for as much as $80 on Amazon.com, and I know of one man who traveled to bookstores in three states looking for a copy. Why is this book so coveted? Read it and find out for yourself!

This revised and expanded edition includes an epilogue that presents some of the fallout from the book, the most unusual of which was being offered the chance to go on a blind date with Katie Couric (now the anchor of the CBS Evening News). As I say in the book, truth is stranger than fiction!

Think you know what it's like in an Emergency Room just because you watch the television show ER?  Take it from an ER doctor — you don't!  Certain aspects of emergency rooms are just not palatable enough for prime-time viewing.  The rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say, is far more interesting.  You won't find these stories on TV, but you'll find them in True Emergency Room Stories.

Author biography

Order the book (pending; I'm out of printed copies and I previously gave the book away in an e-book format)


Review of
True Emergency Room Stories
by Kevin Pezzi, M.D.

What really goes on in emergency rooms?  If you're a fan of the television show ER, you might think that you know.  Not so, asserts Kevin Pezzi, M.D., an ER doctor and author of True Emergency Room Stories.  Pezzi says the show ER only scratches the surface; the truth is far more interesting — and bizarre.  So bizarre, in fact, that the cases could shock even an experienced ER physician.  "I'm now a firm believer in the saying that truth is stranger than fiction," he says.  "I don't think that anyone could dream up such unusual stories."

Pezzi's book is packed with nothing but unusual stories.  There are no "the patient's in v-tach, shock 'em with 200 J and give 'em 100 mg of lidocaine, stat" type of cases.  While such cases are a mainstay of the show ER, Dr. Pezzi believes that they quickly become repetitious.  Instead, he presents an amazing collection of true stories.  The book begins with a story of how he may have saved Michael Jackson's life by averting an assassination attempt by a person who claimed to be a Cosmopolitan cover model, and ends with an interesting tale of how he was propositioned on a beach by a relative of a recent ER patient.  In between, he recounts stories of unusual murders and other crimes, truly odd reasons for dialing 911, unfathomable reasons for visiting the ER, and people with an extraordinary affinity for their pets.  Then there's a shocking end to a pregnancy, a twisted tale of revenge that would be a spellbinding plot for a movie, and the story of a man who attempted to remove his liver at home.

In this book, you'll accompany Dr. Pezzi as he meets the world's unluckiest man and woman, deals with people who have strange requests, and attends to a bride whose genetic disorder wasn't discovered until her wedding night.  There is also the story of the man who didn't know that he had been shot in the head, and the case of the pit bull who picked on the wrong person.

True Emergency Room Stories has something for everyone.  Besides the strange cases, readers will be captivated by dozens of incredible, tragic, humorous, steamy, heartwarming, thought-provoking, and poignant tales.


Dr. Pezzi discusses his book just after the following reader comments:

Reader Comments

After an ER doctor ordered a second copy of my book from Amazon.com's Marketplace, I e-mailed him to ask if this was a new order, or perhaps a snafu from Amazon repeating the first order.  He responded:
"Yes, it's a new order. Having been a residency-trained, board-certified ER doc for 22 years (one of the first), I wanted to keep the first one for myself, and loan out the second to various people, including one of my fighter pilots who is going to attend med school and wants to be an ER doc despite my dire warnings. Great book!!! Your writing sounds exactly like many of the "sermons" I've been giving for years. Your use of the exact same language was uncanny. I've experienced almost everything you've written about in the book in my 26 years of ER work. Thanks for putting it in writing so I can tell people to read it if they want to know what my life is like. Thanks again for the awesome book."
CDR William Voelker, MD, MC (FS/VFC-13) USNR, FAAEM
Medical Director, Emergency Department, Enloe Medical Center, Chico, California

"Truly a great book.  It's one of the most fascinating books I've read."
Ron Lancaster, Radio Host, WDIS, Norfolk, MA

(Comparing my book to Dr. Mark Brown's Emergency!:  True Stories from the Nation's ERs)  "Your book blew that book out of the water!"
Aric LeBlanc, Radio Host, KWTZ-FM, Waco, TX

"Your book is great — there's a lot of interesting things in it.  We really enjoyed reading it."
Mark Spangler, Radio Host, KEEZ-FM, Mankato, MN

(After saying that he receives several books each week, and commenting that most of them are quite forgettable.)  "This one I couldn't put down."
Ernie Brown, Radio Host, KOMO, Seattle, WA

"Your book is great!"
Mary Christine (MC) Danner, Radio Host, WAFX, Chesapeake/Virginia Beach, VA

(When he called to ask me to be interviewed on his show.)  "I've heard that you've written a book that's better than the others of that type."
Jeff Gish, Radio Producer, KLBJ, Austin, TX

"It's a fascinating book — I definitely have to applaud you.  It was great!  I picked it up and couldn't put it down for at least a day."
Sammy Carrillo, Radio Host, KLVV, Ponca City, OK

"I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Pezzi's book.  While there are a great number of amusing stories, I find that how you tell the tale is a quintessential part of any successful story -- Dr. Pezzi knows how to write!  Also, if you ever get the urge to skip ahead all the stories are delimited with dots, and grouped by content within chapters.  Most of the stories are quite short, so this is an ideal book to read when you've only got 5 or 10 minutes at a time.  Two recurring themes:  Medicaid and lawyers suck.  I thought Pezzi's take on the politics of medicine was straight up but a little unnerving.  The bottom line:  THIS BOOK ROCKS!

I read Dr. Pezzi's reviews on other books, 3 of which I've read.  I think he pretty much hits the mark on both of Marion's books but I couldn't stand Emergency Doctor (Ziegler/Goldfrank).  I think I skipped at least a third of the book.  I just couldn't stand the Brady Bunch tone of the book, besides the fact that I don't want to hear Goldfrank's life story.  You have to filter through a lot of garbage to get anything out of Emergency Doctor and even then it's hardly worth it."
Sven Inda
University of Nevada School of Medicine, Class of 2003
http://www.o-chem.com

"I sent the following to a number of friends:

    Rarely do I give a guarantee!  Get this book . . . if you don't have fun with it, I'll buy it from you and send it to someone who has a better sense of humor.  I haven't even finished yet, but the story of the guy and his cousin who stick their private parts into a car's carburetor, the anger about the AIDS spreading ER patient, the tremendous kick about the girl who had no vagina, and only discovered it on her wedding night have already made my week.  Kevin Pezzi's background may make him the world's  most intelligent doctor.
I am also impressed with your business acumen, your political erudition, your ability to generate a wake up call in my mind about society and our position on the evolutionary scale, as well as your writing skills.  I salute you.

By the way, I'd stand on my head if I have to to read ANYTHING from Pezzi!"
Steve B.
Aguanga, CA

"Dr. Pezzi's ER book kept me in stitches!  I can't remember the last time I read a book that made me laugh so hard.  I laughed SO hard I couldn't stand it.  I would highly recommend his ER book for hours of enjoyable reading and re-reading!!"
Denise M.
Pre-Law student

"I brought the book to work and everyone in my ER read it and copied the cover to buy it for themselves.  The book is right on the money and is written extremely well.  One RN said most of the ER books are boring, but this one he couldn't put down.  I have read it from cover to cover in one day.  I love it."
Beverly Grasso, RN
Emergency Nurse

"I loved your book.  It is now making the rounds at St Anthony's Hospital!!!  Everyone really likes it.  PLEASE tell me that you are going to write another one.  Besides the actual stories, I really enjoy your sense of humor and honesty of your feelings."
Sandy
ER, St Anthony's Hospital

Note from Dr. Pezzi:  I plan on about five more books.  Two are essentially complete, and will be released in 2003.  If you want me to notify you as soon as they're available, contact me.

"I am a freshman in high school who has always wanted to become a doctor.  Recently, I've wanted to become an ER doc.  I read your book about three months ago and loved it.  It inspired me, made me laugh, and touched my heart.  Now when I sit down in a class, about ten hands reach to grab the book.  So far about 15 of my friends have read it.  Your experiences have touched many lives, but more importantly, YOU have touched many lives through your courage, honestly, sense of humor, assurance in yourself, and your work.  I will never forget some of the things I read, and when I go to medical school one day, I will always remember that all things are possible but, in all situations you have the power to make the best of the situation and change lives.  Thank you and God bless you."
Veronica
Future ER Doctor

"I sat down to watch the television show ER last night, and I thought I'd read your book during the commercial breaks.  Before long, I turned off the TV.  The show was interesting, but it couldn't begin to compare with your ER stories."
Reader, New York, NY

"What a book!  I brought it with me to work, and everyone couldn't wait to get their hands on it.  Once they began reading it, they didn't want to stop.  I've read other books of this type, but your book is the best by far."
Reader, Plymouth, MI

"Very entertaining!  I was telling my co-workers about some of the stories and they demanded I bring in the book so they could get the address to order books for themselves.  I would definitely recommend this book!"
Reader, Williamsburg, IA

"Your ER stories put Michael Crichton (creator of the TV show ER) to shame.  You recount your stories quite vividly."
Reader, Greenbelt, MD

"Very interesting book.  Couldn't put it down."
Reader, Englewood, CO

"As a former ER worker it was not only true to life, but very, very interesting.  Good job."
Carol Graham
Butte, MT

"Your website is a BLAST.  By the way, what a fantastic writer you are!  Very funny!"
Annaliese D.
Henrietta, PA

"Couldn't put the book down.  Kevin made me feel like he was talking to me one on one!  Good book."
Mary T. Rosch
Loudonville, NY

"The book is GREAT!  I work at a level 1 trauma center in the ER.  A lot of your stories hit home."
Vic McAdams
Daytona Beach, FL

"Great stories!  As a nurse I totally identify and agree with your assessment of the welfare system . . . .  Your command of the English language is awesome — write more!"
Ginger Diver
Oroville, CA

"Excellent book!  Fast pace, never boring.  Your writing style packs a punch while leaving out extraneous filler found in other "true story" books.  I look forward to reading Fascinating Health Secrets."
Susan Townsend
Green Valley, CA

"I thoroughly enjoyed your book.  It was wonderful!  I'm a nurse and I certainly could relate to your stories!"
Evelyn Duncan
Conover, NC

"I've been an ER doctor for many years, and one of my hobbies is reading books such as this one which give you an insider's view of the ER. After reading just about every such book, I can tell you that Pezzi gives you the most accurate portrayal of what we ER doctors think and say when we're out of the earshot of patients and we're discussing some of the more unusual things that go on in the ER. Pezzi writes about things that other ER doctors/authors don't have the guts to touch, such as romance with patients and a number of equally shocking revelations. Some people object to how Pezzi depicts patients who come to the ER for silly reasons, but I have to applaud his stance on that issue. The money that is spent on paying for those visits is money that is being diverted away from legitimate uses. The range of stories in this book is amazing. Some are lighthearted and nothing but fun, while others are dead serious and will really make you think. All in all, this is a great book."
ER doctor, Houston, TX

"Wow, has this book stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy! After reading some of its reviews [on Amazon.com] I didn't know whether it would be a great read or the right-wing ER manifesto that some people would like you to believe it is. Here's my impression:  this book is filled with dozens and dozens of great stories that should interest anyone, whether you're a conservative, a liberal, or anything in between. Then there are the stories in which Dr. Pezzi mentions how his opinions were shaped by his ER experiences. In his book, Pezzi mentions that he was poor when he grew up and consequently he did not harbor any animus toward poor people in general. However, it is clear that his opinions about some (not all) poor people changed after being repeatedly subjected to some of their shenanigans and abuse. Notably, Pezzi doesn't utter one peep about poor people who come into the ER for a legitimate reason, such as a heart attack. Instead, he describes some of the absolutely ridiculous reasons that incites some people to go to the ER, and some of the outrageous things they do during their ER visits. For example, there is an interesting story about how a nutty family went ballistic in the ER and injured one of the ER staff, breaking one of her bones. Pezzi mentioned that the family was on welfare because it was germane to the story. In other words, it wasn't a pointless slam. Similarly, every time Pezzi unleashes one of his classic barbs he has good reasons for thinking what he does. You may agree or you may not, but I think any fair-minded person can see why the riffraff in our society shaped Pezzi's opinions in the way they have. All in all, his opinions constitute a small fraction of this book, and what's left are the stories -- and oh what fantastic stories they are! If you think the television show ER has interesting stories, wait until you read some of the ones that Pezzi presents -- they'll knock your socks off!"
Reader, Marinette, Wisconsin

"From the first sentence, Dr. Pezzi had me riveted. From his collection of outrageous ER experiences to his insightful, candid viewpoints on the state of healthcare in America, he offers a wickedly voyeuristic ride into the real world of emergency medicine. Unlike other ER books which simply offer a compilation of stories, Pezzi writes with a bracing candor that breaks down the "white coat" barrier to reveal the feelings, thoughts and fears of an ER doctor. He's made an avid fan out of this reader!"
Reader, North Miami Beach, Florida

"I thought this book was the best.  I worked with Dr. Pezzi before and he was one of the best ER docs I've seen.  Sure did miss him when he left."
ER nurse, Flint, MI

"One intriguing story after another. A real page turner — you'll finish the book before you can put it down because it's so very well written, entertaining and informative. The strange and bizarre world of the ER really comes alive in this book. This is a world in which only an ER doctor can bring to life. Great reading for all."
Elizabeth Matteini
Canton, MI

"The emergency room stories in this book span an incredible variety of topics, and they're written in an entertaining and passionate manner. The book starts with a bang and doesn't stop until the last story is over. I've shown the book to my friends, and all of them were hooked after reading one story. Simply put, this book is addictive."
Jennifer Adams
Chicago, IL

"This book was great. It now has a permanent place on by library at my house. The stories make you laugh and gasp with shock. I couldn't put it down!"
Reader, Texas

"Dr. Pezzi wrote a fabulous book. In it, he recounts an incredibly wide range of stories. Here are a few of them:  (long list omitted to save space).

If you believe some of the other reviewers, Pezzi's book is just a soap box for his viewpoints. Not true. First of all, as should be evident from the above list, there is an incredible breadth of content. Secondly, he NEVER squawks about anyone who has a legitimate need for ER care. However, it is clear that he's weary of attending to patients with trivial or even goofy problems, such as the guy with belly button lint or the lady who came to the ER by ambulance because she wanted an assessment of whether or not she was tight enough "down there." So why all the unjustified negative PR? Pezzi is one of those "you either love him or hate him" guys. He's had a lot of interesting experiences in the ER, and those experiences molded him. Furthermore, he doesn't water down his stories and how they affected him. If reality offends you then you may not like this book, but if you want an unparalleled glimpse into real emergency rooms and what goes on in the mind of one brilliant ER doctor, then this is the book for you."
Reader, Toledo, Ohio

"Your book is fantastic.  You have a great sense of humor."
Carol Andrews
Washington, DC

"I am an EMT — your book had me in stitches, and I think I said "Duh, no kidding . . . been there, done that" after every page!  Good job!"
Rhonda Leate, EMT

"As a former EMT I loved your book.  I was rolling on the floor especially when I read about the guy having sex with his truck.  When will the sequel be out?"
John A., via the Internet

Response:  I don't know when the next ER book will be published. I submitted the book to some literary agents, but they thought I should combine the separate stories into a book in which one story flows into another. I explained to them that the stories are completely distinct, and any attempt to blend them together is artificial and will just add filler to the book. I think that ER stories should be distinct, since that's how they are in real life. So, to make a long story short, I'm searching for an agent who agrees with me on this point. I'm not sure why the agents are so adamant about it, because every reader who gave me feedback on this issue liked having the discrete stories in which there was a well-defined beginning and end.

"It truly is one of the most interesting books I have ever read. Thank you very much."
Rick, via the Internet
 


After reading my book, one ER doctor liked it so much that he bought eight more copies to give to his partners!


The public's fascination with emergency rooms, as evidenced by the popularity of the television show ER, is attributable to the fact that ER's are home to a variety of dramatic and unusual events. However, the stories in this book make the television program seem as bland as Styrofoam. Written by an emergency room physician with contributions from his colleagues, this book presents some of the most unique emergency room stories ever told. Readers will be captivated by a collection of incredible, tragic, humorous, poignant, uplifting, thought-provoking, and bizarre tales. It's been said that truth is stranger than fiction. This is particularly true in emergency rooms, where the endless parade of strange events can leave even seasoned ER doctors shocked in disbelief. This is a book that you won't be able to put down.

Let me shift gears for a minute.  Judging from two reader reviews on Amazon.com, some people have come to the mistaken conclusion that I don’t like poor people. To begin with, I used to be very poor, and I know what it is like to go without food and medical care. In fact, I’m probably one of the few people in the world who has performed surgery on himself (successfully, by the way) because of a lack of money with which to pay a doctor. Consequently, I am very sympathetic to the needs of the less fortunate people in this world, and there is not one story in this book that criticizes a poor person for coming to the ER for a legitimate reason. However, I do not believe that a person is sacrosanct and exempt from censure just because he is poor. If a poor person — or a millionaire, for that matter — came to the ER for a reason that was so goofy I needed to bite my lip to keep from laughing, then I think such a case is fair game for discussion in a book of unusual ER stories.

These stories focus upon the unusual aspects of each particular case, and rarely delve into the specifics of medical or surgical treatment. The intriguing nature of these cases lies not in catheter sizes and other bits of medical minutiae, but rather in the unique interplay between the ER staff, the patient, and heaven knows who or what else.

Curiously, books of this genre which concentrate upon nothing but emergencies fail to accurately convey the spirit and pulse of real emergency rooms. That's because ER patients often have no problem which can be construed to be an emergency. While they may have no pressing medical problems, they often present with interesting cases. In fact, there is often an inverse correlation between the seriousness of a case and its uniqueness. In my opinion, it is that latter element which provides the fodder for some highly captivating stories.

If you’re looking for entertainment, you won’t be disappointed. However, there is more than simple amusement in these pages. You will meet healthcare personnel whose thirst for revenge is chilling. You will read about people who look for love in the ER — of all places! You will hold your breath as I tiptoe through a case in which the patient was at risk of being murdered by her father. You will meet a beautiful teenager who tried killing herself after having an affair with her psychiatrist. You will watch me fight to keep a patient from endangering the lives of dozens of hospital visitors. You will encounter people with very unusual habits. You will hear about a child who was shot in the head with a bullet, but didn’t know it. You will find out if I can resist the temptation of a gorgeous woman who offered me her body in exchange for a prescription for narcotics. You will witness a shocking end to a friendship. You will read about how an uppity nurse refused to ease the suffering of a dying man. You will understand how a homeless man gave me an unexpected insight into why some homeless people are homeless. You will observe a patient eat a sandwich that was soaked with the blood of his mother. You will discover how a man used a gun to seek revenge against a pit bull that had savagely mauled his young daughter. You will see your tax dollars and insurance premiums go up in smoke as the price of maintaining the status quo, and you’ll understand why the shenanigans of lawyers are more than an economic drain. You will discover why ER docs have the highest burnout rate of any medical specialty, and you’ll begin to see the Hollywood depictions of the ER for just what they are:  fiction. These stories, and several dozen more, are in TRUE Emergency Room Stories.

One of my goals in writing this book was to give you an idea of what it is like to be a real ER doctor in a real ER. To achieve this end, I have sometimes appended my opinions to the stories. As you will see, my views have been influenced by repeated exposure to events which are outrageous, maddening, and just plain wacky. But that's the reality of a real ER; to ignore it is to miss an integral aspect of its quintessence. This book is a window into another world — the world of emergency medicine. Entering this strange world will undoubtedly leave an indelible impression upon you, as it has me.


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Meet my Editors

Names in this book were changed to protect the confidentiality of patients and contributors who requested anonymity. The first person linguistic presentation used therein is a means of effecting literary cohesion and avoiding exhaustive repetition of attributing stories from anonymous contributors, and hence should not be construed as being applicable in all cases in a literal sense.  Translated from the legal mumbo-jumbo:  I, me, myself, or Dr. Pezzi might not necessarily refer to me but instead to an anonymous contributor.  I've had an interesting life, but it's not been that interesting!

 

Copyright © 1995 – 2011 by Kevin Pezzi, MD • Terms of use