Who Says You’re Dead by Jacob M. Appel, MD – A Review

Who Says You're Dead Jacob M Appel

Who Says You’re Dead?: Medical & Ethical Dilemmas for the Curious & Concerned by Jacob M. Appel, M.D.
Nonfiction | Medical | Ethics | Science
Published by Algonquin Books
Released October 8, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinions.

I’m fascinated by morbid science, questionable ethics, and interesting medical cases. This is why I reached out to Algonquin Books to ask for an ARC of this book and was thrilled when I received it in the mail. Who Says You’re Dead is a collection of medicine’s ethical dilemmas and insights into the difficult choices that medical professionals are forced to make.

The scenarios in the book cover a wide range of situations. Here are just a few:

  • Would it be ethical for a doctor to be present during the torture of prisoners to ensure that the prisoner doesn’t die?
  • Should lithium be added to the water in areas with a lot of suicides?
  • If a patient creates a lot of havoc at a doctor’s office and starts harassing other patients, should the doctor’s office be able to ban her? What if they’re the only place for miles around that can offer the particular treatment she needs in order to live?
  • Should employers be able to conduct DNA testing on potential new hires?
  • If a child is suffering from a terminal illness and near-constant pain, should the parents have the right to decide to end their child’s life?

This book was very engaging, and it was fun discussing the scenarios with others in order to see where we stood on certain issues. After reading Who Says You’re Dead, I’m very glad I’m not one of the people responsible for making these sorts of decisions. I can’t imagine having to face extremely hard ethical dilemmas like these every day.

Jacob M Appel.jpg
Jacob M. Appel, MD

Writer Jacob M. Appel pulled these scenarios from real events, which makes this book even more captivating. Appel is a bioethicist and is able to offer a lot of insight into these hard situations.

The chapters are incredibly short, at most being four pages. I do wish there had been more information given for a lot of the questions, as I was left wanting to know so much more about many of them.

One aspect of the book I did like, however, is that Appel doesn’t provide definite answers to what should be done in any of these scenarios. Just like in real life, there isn’t always one correct answer. Decisions often take place on a case-by-case basis where a lot of different factors have to be considered. The author presents all the options a doctor or medical professional can make and leaves it at that.

If you’re the type of person who binge-watches television shows like House or finds yourself fascinated by medical dilemmas and ethics, you’ll love this book. I’m glad to have read it as it gave me a great deal of insight into situations I had never considered before.


Will you be adding Who Says You’re Dead to your TBR? What are your favorite medical-related non-fiction books? Let me know in the comments!




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Absolutely bookish.

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