High Risk: A Doctor’s Notes on Pregnancy, Birth, and the Unexpected

Liveright. Mar. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9781631495014. pap. $26.95. MED
Reflecting her journalistic and medical experience, Karkowsky’s first book uses stories of former patients, statistics, and historical references to portray the world of high-risk pregnancy. The book is organized around the stages of pregnancy, and chapters cover issues relating to each trimester, including the increased use of genetic testing, the challenges of medical language and miscommunication, the resurgence of home births, the difficulties of Cesarean deliveries, and maternal and infant mortality patterns. Karkowsky candidly acknowledges the ongoing problem of implicit bias and its harmful impact on black patients. This well-written narrative is moving and medically dense. Clearly not a simple pregnancy manual for the average patient, the book provides vivid insights into the more intense aspects of reproductive medicine.
VERDICT Karkowsky raises important issues concerning patient autonomy and the treatment of women in the health care system. For those who enjoyed Perri Klass’s The Real Life of a Pediatrician and anyone interested in the challenges of modern health care.

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