Cover image for Across the red line : stories from the surgical life
Across the red line : stories from the surgical life
Karl, Richard C., 1945-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 147 pages ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RD27.35.K37 A3 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Richard Karl, a doctor and teacher, takes the reader closer than any writer before into the corridors of the hospital, on the surgical table, and into the world of medicine. In these pages we see the tragedies and triumphs of modern medicine: the beauty of surgery done well, and the aftermath of operations that fail to deliver on the hopes of the doctor and patient. We witness the M&MOCothe morbidity and mortality meetingOCowhere doctors scrutinize their own work and mistakes, and the often inevitable outcomes of treatment. Suffused throughout are KarlOCOs keen observations on the workings of the human body and its immense capacity for healing. ...I celebrate the rich privilege accorded the practicing surgeon. The surgical life is really about bearing witness to the human condition and about respecting the many almost whimsical variations of biology and about the intersection of the two. It is remarkable, really, the way I get to know people so intimately so quickly, and to observe the brave and often noble behavior in them, while I witness the relentless push of biology, the aging and decay, the growth and development, but most especially the healing, both physical and emotional. It is this natural drive of our bodies to repair themselves from all injuries (including the surgeon's wounds) that is the centerpiece of medicine. Without it no surgeon could cut. Written with economy and subtlety, "Across the Red Line" offers a vivid picture of disease and the miracle of life. It will interest anyone who's ever been on either side of the surgical table."

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Karl's surgical life began when, as a boy, he first consciously observed his father's life as a surgeon and has continued through his own medical education and 30 years of practice. Two of his most engaging chapters concern his own illnesses with hepatitis from a needle stick and with a spinal cord injury suffered while trying to wrestle a crazed patient to the floor. His account of the latter illness harrowingly illustrates what can happen when an arrogant, insufficiently experienced neurosurgeon operates, and both episodes of illness show how a doctor--Karl himself, in these instances, but representing his confreres--may learn from his own illnesses to become a better practical physician. Among many acute observations throughout the book, Karl's comment that patients initiate malpractice suits "because of bad results--and for lack of eye contact" from their doctor indicates what he feels most strongly physicians should not lack--sympathy. --William Beatty