Five Medical Pitfalls Authors Fall Into


One of the reasons I created my medical blog for authors, Redwood’s Medical Edge, was to right some of the wrongs in published works—traditional and indie—that caused me to want to toss the book aside and move on to something else.


A reader, even one who primarily reads fiction, wants to trust you as an author. Part of building that trust is doing your research to make sure the details are authentic. The more close to real life you write, the more believable your fiction is. Strange, right?


As a medical professional of almost twenty-five years, these are a few author pitfalls that will signal to me that an author has not done their research and I begin to wonder what other details of their manuscript they’ve been loose with.


  1. Referring to an ECG as an EKG: This is relatively common and you’ll likely be given a pass on this because as medical professionals communicate with one another—we still will say “EKG” but the correct terminology is ECG. An ECG comes from electrocardiogram and is when we attach patches to your chest to look at the electrical activity of your heart.


  1. Anatomical Issues: These can be annoying because they are the easiest to research on your own. I’ve seen passages in published novels where the spleen is on the right side (it’s on the left), and the clavicle referred to as a scapula (your collar bone versus your shoulder blade.) Easiest way to determine where a certain organ/bone is would be to Google search specifically—“what side is the spleen on?” It should pop up pretty readily.


  1. HIPAA Violations: HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This is the law that governs patient privacy and is the information you receive each time you seek medical care that dictates how your health information is shared. The easiest way to understand patient privacy is that only people who are in direct care of the patient should look at that patient’s information.

    Let’s look at an example.

    I take care of a neighbor’s child in the ER during a shift. If my husband calls me at work, I can’t say, “Hey, Mindy is here with her daughter. She broke her leg.” This is a violation of HIPAA. Now, I can share that information if Mindy says I can do so but she has to give me permission. Other types of HIPAA violations I’ve seen in published novels? A nurse giving patient information to a reporter—this is a huge no-no. All information released to the press is done through the public relations office. This is drilled into every medical professional’s head from the get-go. Another example from real life was when a local news station shot an interview with a nurse manager where the patient tracking board was in the backdrop. All big no-no’s.


  1. Injuries that heal too quickly: Sure, you want conflict and sometimes conflict means a character taking a bullet or being in a car accident. Often times the problem in fiction comes after the injury and what your character will be reasonably able to do. These need to match. For instance, if your hero takes a bullet to the arm and it shatters the bone, then that arm is out of commission for a good six to eight weeks. It cannot be wielding a gun the next day and firing off shots with remarkable accuracy. Make sure whatever injury your character suffers, the physical effects of the injury is reflected in the manuscript. If your character breaks a femur then they will not be running the next day.


  1. Scope of practice issues: The term scope of practice covers a set of laws that dictate what a licensed medical person can and can’t do. They vary from state to state so if your novel is set in a specific locale it will behoove you to look at those laws. An example of a scope of practice issue is an EMT performing a C-section. This is clearly outside their scope of practice. Now, can he do it in a fiction novel? Yes—but he also needs to be seen struggling with the decision. He will know it’s outside his scope of practice but does it anyway—this is conflict. He will also be responsible for the consequences that follow. A good example of this was the novel Midwives by Chris Bohjalian where a midwife performed a C-section.

    Remember, medical characters in fiction can do bad things. Violating HIPAA laws and operating outside their scope of practice makes for great conflict and novels should have loads of conflict. However, the reader, in order to trust you and your research, needs to know that you know the character has done a bad thing and the character should suffer consequences for it. For a nurse, this could be something a mild as a verbal warning to as serious as losing a nursing license.


What medical inaccuracies have you seen in published fiction?




jordyn-337eJordyn Redwood is a nurse by day, novelist by night. She has specialized in critical care and emergency nursing for nearly two decades. As a self professed medical nerd, she reads medical textbooks for fun. This led to the creation of Redwood’s Medical Edge– a blog devoted to helping authors write medically accurate fiction. Jordyn loves to weave medical mystery into her story lines and see how her characters navigate through the chaos she creates.












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I’m studying a book in small group. Tulian Tchividjian’s One Way Love. It’s one of those books that changes you. I know it’s changing me. Taking me deeper into Father’s love, deeper into understanding Father’s love.




How often do we, as humans, try to put limits on the love God has for us? How often do we place conditions on His love? On giving our love to those we hold most dear? On loving ourselves?


This was the one that snared me, loving myself. I still fight against that notion, so ingrained in me, that I have to repay a kindness, I have to pay in some way for a favor. Asking for help is probably the hardest thing for me EVER not because of pride, but because I (still) don’t feel worthy.

And that’s such a lie.

Along with that, is the need to take care of me. To rest when I’m weary (like now). To eat properly (mostly a budget thing). To express myself honestly and freely.

But that’s the thing, the resting. Abide in Me, He says. Rest in Me. Hide under the shelter of My wings.


I remember a snippet of a song I heard years ago. A cassette tape mysteriously appeared on my kitchen counter. No joke, I had no clue where it came from. It was a mixed tape of Amy Grant songs, not an album, but several of her better known numbers, and a few I’d never heard before. This little lick was from one of those. It goes:




We tend to think that the more we do, the more we’ll be rewarded. But that backfires. In the long run, it always will. Longer hours at the job nets more pay. But a heavy loss in down time, family time.  Our health.

I once heard a story of a man who not only tithed but gave his entire paycheck in the offering each week. Before long, his phone and utilities were shut off, he lost his home, his vehicle, and his job because he had no transportation to get there, and his wife left him. He asked his pastor why God didn’t bless him when he had given so much. The pastor told him, as kindly as he could, that God had blessed him. The job, the home, the family. That paycheck, however great or small, was intended to meet those basic needs. The poor man had gotten wrapped up in some warped thinking, that God supernaturally provides the groceries, and the gas for the car, and the mortgage payment, when what God had provided was the job to meet those needs.

The man gave more than God ever asked or expected—and lost everything. [Giving] more is not always better.

And we’re back to relationship. Hearing His still small voice. Conversing with Him, and knowing His will.


This is the way, walk ye in it. It’s not just a suggestion. It’s His best for us. We don’t have to understand. It’s up to us to listen. And obey.





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Author Interview – CASEY HERRINGSHAW






rem:  Welcome to my blog, Casey. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

CASEY: Hi Robin! Thanks for having me. J I am a small town country girl that craves wide open spaces and no building obstructions for miles and miles on end. I’m an introvert, can ya tell? (wink) I was raised in a little tiny cow town in Eastern Oregon—where the population was easily outnumbered by cattle to people. I now live in Colorado Springs where I have a job and friends that I love (but I still crave those wide open spaces and run away to them as often as I can and money allows).

rem:  Tell us three things about yourself.

CASEY: I am not good at being spontaneous. It has to be on the calendar. Preferably a week in advance. I always wanted to be a professional barrel racer. I once read over 200 books in one year alone.

rem:   I’m okay with spontaneous, sorta—I’m a plan-a-holic. LOL What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? What’s your favorite cookie?

CASEY: Salted Caramel baby! The gelato kind is even better. And snickerdoodles. I make a mean snickerdoodle if I do say so myself.

rem:  Oh, that sounds divine! Superman or Batman?

CASEY : Is the Superman we’re referring to played by the oh-so-charming Henry Cavill? Then, yes please. J

rem: It’s your preference, so, yeah, Henvy Cavill.  wink wink Vacation: beach or mountains?

CASEY : Since I live by the mountains and I have friends that live at the beach, I usually vacation at the beach. But my heart will always be in the mountains.

rem:  Makes sense .Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

CASEY: Hidden Places by Lynn Austin. I’ve probably the book a total of 4 times and it’s almost time to read it a 5th time. That is a story that has never left my mind since the first time I picked it up and couldn’t put it back down.

rem: Hmmm, gonna have to look this up and give it a read! Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?

CASEY: So many genres to love! Contemporary romance favorites would be (but not limited to): Becky Wade, Beth K. Vogt, Susan May Warren, Denise Hunter, Melissa Tagg, Janice Thompson, Katie Ganshert, Kathryn Cushman, Rachel Hauck, Candace Calvert and so many others! Historical romance favorites would be (but again, not limited to!): Julie Lessman, Kristy Cambron, Laura Frantz, Jody Hedlund, Pepper Basham, Tamera Alexander, Joanne Bischof. The list could really just go on and on. Aren’t we blessed in Christian fiction?

rem: Unfair question, really, isn’t it? So many great names, so many superb writers! Which is more important: plot or characters?

CASEY: Characters. I’m also a character driven novelist. To me, the plot flounders without characters to run it and I want these to be people I’m deeply invested in. People that I want to spend time long after that last page is turned. People that I can’t stop thinking about. The best books are the kind that when I close that back cover, I cry, just a little, that the story is over.

rem: Maybe also an unfair question—but yeah, without strong characters, who cares what happens? LOL How long have you been an Alleycat? How did you become an Alleycat?

CASEY: Since the very beginning! I think it’s going on 4 years now? I might be totally off with that number. It feels like forever and yet just yesterday. The Alleycats are more than just a blog, we are a sisterhood I couldn’t live without.

rem: It’s evident in your posts and pics how close ya’ll are! (I might be a ta jealous, but I kinda feel lik an honorary!) Tell us a little about your writing journey.

CASEY: I’ve been writing for roughly 10 years now. It all started in junior high school when my dad (I was homeschooled) gave me a creative writing assignment. From there I have written 5 full length novels and have a 6th under construction. I took about a three year hiatus from writing due to an extreme case of burnout, which ended up being a blessing from God as right after I stopped writing I moved three times—the first time a thousand miles from home and family—and changed jobs twice. God knew I couldn’t be writing and dealing with major life changes. He’s wise and good like that. Now, I’m slowing wading back in and falling in love all over again.

rem: I, too, took a hiatus although for vastly different reasons. And yeah, definitely falling in love and no looking back! What is your Writing Routine?  Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

CASEY: I usually write at home. On my couch, cuddled under a blanket and a good drink not too far away. Usually hot tea in the winter or just plain ole water in the summer. Sometimes I have music, lately I have been writing in the quiet, asking God to join me in this process of creating with Him.

rem: I love that, Casey, asking God to join you! What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

CASEY: I struggle with what my timeline looks like compared to other people. I have to celebrate their success and then put blinders on to the enemy of comparison for their journey to mine. Three years away from writing has been very freeing for looking at my comrades and being truly joyful for them and okay for me, on the sidelines, waiting my turn. But the waiting hasn’t been hard. It’s been a growth that has needed to happen.

rem: I think we all fight to make comparisons at some time or another, I know I do. I write differently to most of my writer pals, though, so there really isn’t any comparison. Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

CASEY: Give me a rough draft ANY day of the week over editing. I love the process of creating these people and places out of nothing. I’m getting better about liking the editorial process, but only just recently. For so long I have struggled with knowing my story needed work, but needing help to get the structural work in place that it needed. I am so grateful for my mentors through that process. I’d be lost without them!

rem: What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

CASEY: The community. To be surrounded by people who understand and get me and people that I actively can encourage and support. That gives me energy on the most tiring and draining of days and makes my heart oh-so happy.

rem: A to the MEN! I agree, the community and friends I’ve made is like nothing else! What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

CASEY: The hardest is putting in the work. Sitting down, putting my fingers to the keyboard and creating. The easiest? Celebrating the success of hitting a certain word count, “The End” or any other little milestone that makes the journey memorable and worth celebrating. Plus the chocolate that is involved in that celebrating. (wink)

rem: What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

CASEY:  Write, write, write. Don’t stop writing. Be willing to accept instruction. And be willing to realize that your first work is not going to be your bestselling (or even a selling) masterpiece. And that’s truly ok.


Since I worked for a literary agent, I have so many things you shouldn’t do as new author. But I’ll try to keep my snark to myself. (Wink). I DO say to read the guidelines. Respect the guidelines. Follow the guidelines. There ya go. All the wisdom this former admin literary assistant has got for you.

rem: This is a snark-safe environment. In fact, we welcome snark here.  Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

CASEY: From life. Living life. Doing life. Asking God for story ideas when the well seems bone dry. I’m honestly not sure how to best answer that question. God always seems to plop a story idea into my head and heart just when I need to write it.

rem:   I hear ya!  My stories just “appear,” and my characters “introduce” themselves to me. As authors we sometimes give our characters one or more of our personal traits. Have you ever taken on a trait of your character that you didn’t have before?

CASEY: I can’t say that I have ever taken on a character’s trait, but I have written parts of myself into my stories. I’m actually doing that now with my heroine for my current story. She actually struggles with something that I have always struggled with: my value. And it’s going to be an interesting discovery Skye and I have, I do believe.

rem: You have won three awards, the ACFW Genesis Semi-Finalist twice, and the My Book Therapy Frasier Finalist. Congratulations to you! What was the submission process?

CASEY: Is it horrible to say I don’t remember which books were Genesis semi’s? My Frasier finalist was actually my very first contemporary and my second book ever. I’m still blown away that it made it that far! I was so green in writing that book. But it’s still one that I think about often and wonder if it will ever unearth itself for a total rewrite and a chance to see the light of day. Who knows. J

rem: Not horrible at all! We writers have a myriad of stories swirling in our heads all.the.time. You are passionate about Committed to Purity. Talk about this a little bit. How did you become interested in this?

CASEY: I was definitely raised with a strong understanding and respect for modesty and purity and played a part in my daily life and how it would affect my future whether I followed these Biblical precepts or I ignored them. I saw so many girls (and guys) pass through my life in one way or another that were wounded or hurting. Longing for a relationship, like myself, and settling for the first guy (or girl) that found them attractive and voiced their sentiments. I wanted to encourage these young people, just like myself, to stand strong in their morals. To live their lives, to glorify God and trust that He had the absolute best plans for their future. I wanted the next generation—my generation to be transformed by living to honor to God and to stand strong in who He is calling them to be.

rem: Casey, I agree 100%, and honor what you’re doing with  Committed to Purity. What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

CASEY: I want readers to be reminded of who they are as sons and daughters of God: beloved. Forgiven. Redeemed.

rem: Our true identity, yes. Anything else you’d like to add?

CASEY: I’m so honored that you’ve invited me to your online home, Robin! It’s been so fun to sit down with your friends here and spend a little bit of time. If they have made it this far, I am incredibly honored and humbled. I hope you’ll stop by my online home at The Alley and say hi sometime!

rem:  Thanks so much for joining us today, it’s been a pleasure having on my blog!





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“As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.” —Acts 9:3 (NKJV) There are two powerful reminders in this verse: “As he journeyed”…

Source: Wednesday Wisdom – JOURNEY

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Or my pilot.  I know. Blasphemous, right?


Well, blasphemous according to popular school of thought anyway.  Made even more popular with lyrics like, “Lord, take the wheel.” And I get the sentiment. Lord, take charge of my life. I surrender all.


But He does not ask us to surrender our free will. He does not ask us to deny who we are, our individuality. And He is not a chauffeur.



He is my guide, and my Light. My source and my direction.




Remember the Israelites I mentioned last week? How did God deliver them from Egypt? He directed them. He did not load them in a bus and drive them. He did not mount the lead camel. He gave them directions in the form of a cloud by day and fire by night. He guided them.




He leads me. Beside still water. He leads me in the way I should go.




He does not force me to still waters. He does not force me to the right or the left.


Picture this scenario. I am driving and God is in the passenger seat. We’re heading toward the mountains and as we come through the foothills, the road splits. God says to bear right, go through the canyon.

“But God,” I say. “I love the vistas from the mesa.” And I ignore His guidance.

But alas. When we reach the mesa, there is a severe storm bearing down, bordering on tornado force winds.

And I realize, we would have been safe in the canyon.




Same scenario. Same road. Same trip.

But when the road splits, God says to bear left, and drive over the mesa.

“But God,” I say. “I love driving the road as it winds along the river. I love the canyon walls.” And I ignore His guidance.

And, yes, alas. As we wend though the canyon, heavy rains have produced flooding in the river, and the road is washed out. And being a canyon, there is no way out.

And I realize, we would have been safe atop the mesa.


Do you see the importance of listening to His still small voice.




So no, God is not my pilot. Nor my copilot.




Rather, He is my Navigator.




I remember when I was a little girl, long before GPS and smart phones, the many trips we made, my dad was driving and my mom sat next to him with maps in hand. They pored over maps well in advance, looking at this route and that one. Then as Dad drove, Mom would give him the directions.




She gave directions based on the map. And he heeded her guidance. He didn’t have to. He could have gone off wherever his fancy took us. And who knows where we might have ended up. Could have been a great adventure. Or it could have been a great disaster.


My dad was in the Air Force. He was a navigator.




He knows the value of the navigator. And he knows the value of listening to those directives.


And God’s directives are of no less value. He can see storms coming that we could never imagine. He can see tragedy headed our way that can be diverted if only we heed His voice. In His grace—and in our foolishness—He intervenes more than we know. But He gives us the choice—and the responsibility—to direct our own lives. To manage our own lives.


This is the way, walk ye in it. It’s not just a suggestion. It’s His best for us. We don’t have to understand. It’s up to us to listen. And obey.




to be continued…


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