House of God - Samuel Shem

The book follows the protagonist Basch through his internship at a hospital called House of God. A major theme in the book is that of “doing nothing”. Primum non nocere.

Relieved to think that my compulsion to try to cure was the only real disease in my patients, I sat back and let them, as people, bring me into their lives. What a difference! My basketball-playing arthritic black woman, when I ignored her aching knees and asked about her kids, opened up, chatted happily, and brought her kids in to meet me.

These people didn’t give a damn about their diseases or ‘cures’; what they wanted was what anyone wanted: the hand in their hand, the sense that their doctor could care.

‘Primum non … But then why do doctors do anything at all?’ ‘The Fat Man says to produce complications.’ ‘Why do doctors want to produce complications?’ ‘To make money.’