Critical Conditions: The Essential Hospital Guide to Get Your Loved One Out Alive
by Martine Ehrenclou, M.A.


Lemon Grove Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-981-52400-9.
Reviewed by Barbara L. Heller
Posted on 11/23/2009

Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Body Language

Critical Conditions: The Essential Hospital Guide to Get Your Loved One Out Alive by Martine Ehrenclou, M.A. is a valuable book. The probability that an individual will have a close friend or family member in the hospital is great and this book can help the patient and them survive the ordeal.

Hospitalizations generally increase anxiety for patients and those close to them. Family members and friends are often faced with questions such as, "Who should I talk to about my loved one's medical care? What decisions might we have to make while my loved one is hospitalized? What resources are available? What types of problems can we anticipate?" Critical Conditions provides a practical map to maneuver through the medical maze and get answers to these important questions.

Critical Conditions is a well-organized resource based on more than 150 interviews with families and medical professionals. The first half of the book addresses the basics of advocating for someone who is hospitalized, from the beginning to the end of their hospital stay. Ms Ehrenclou clearly explains the roles of the primary nurse, physicians, and other hospital personnel. She points out the correct people to speak with about specific concerns and suggests questions you should ask them. Although respectful of the medical system, Ehrenclou is realistic about its shortcomings and emphasizes ways to prevent common medical errors, infectious diseases, and fatal falls (one of the major causes of hospital deaths). Cultural issues, medical directives, and discharge planning and aftercare are also covered.

The second half of Critical Conditions provides an indispensable workbook and journal. Forms are included for tracking the patient's treatment and include space to list the specialists involved and their contact information, various test results, and daily progress notes.

Following the steps and suggestions in this book can help empower a person who cares about the well-being of someone who is hospitalized. Critical Conditions is valuable to read before a loved one is hospitalized and a great resource to take to the hospital. In fact, it could be a lifesaver.


Martine Ehrenclou has had several of her stories published in best selling books and has written for newspapers and magazines. She lives in Los Angeles, CA, with her husband, a successful architect, and their daughter. Visit her website.

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