Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Medical Rebuttal of Amazon Review: Dianna Benson

It's hard as an author to get bad reviews-- and it's hard to know what to do about them. Generally, I personally feel everyone's entitled to their opinion about my work. As Elizabeth Gilbert states in Big Magic-- my job is to get my work out there and everything else is not my business.

But it's hard, particularly when a reviewer remarks about a medical inaccuracy in your novel and you are a medical expert. And since this blog is about medical accuracy in fiction, I'm hosting Dianna Benson to talk about her experience with just such a review. 

Welcome back, Dianna.

A few months after my first novel, The Hidden Son, released in 2013, a reader/fan contacted me to inform me a review was posted on Amazon with incorrect medical comments. The person who wrote the review stated it’s not possible for someone who suffered brain damage from head trauma to recover and later become a police officer. Recently, an MD wrote a review on Amazon stating and explaining how that review is medically inaccurate – thank you, Robert Littleton, MD.

As an EMT for eleven years, I have firsthand medical experience and knowledge, especially with trauma, and I implement that into all my suspense novels. As Dr. Littleton stated, the human brain can heal from temporary damage (thus not all brain damage is permanent.) In The Hidden Son I briefly explained the character’s injuries and recovery, and in Persephone’s Fugitive (Book Two in the Cayman Islands Series), I wrote more detail about those injuries and recovery since that information fit with the characterization in one of the story scenes toward the end.

Like Dr. Littleton, I’m a Tar Heels fan – my son is a pre-med student at UNC Chapel Hill, headed to medical school to become either a neurologist or a pediatric oncologist. In addition to my EMS career, I have firsthand experience and knowledge with brain damage via my son – he was born with cerebral palsy, hypermobile joints, and dextrocardia situs inversus totalis with kartagener syndrome.

Due to his health issues, he easily suffered multiple concussions in high school and now struggles with chronic concussion syndrome. While his brain is healing, he’s able to succeed as a pre-med student, but it’s rough. His neurologist’s prognosis is my son will fully recover soon. A patient of my son’s neurologist was in a coma for a month from head trauma from a car accident. For several years this patient dealt with chronic concussion syndrome due to brain damage. Now, she’s a physician and fully recovered.
Unless I explicitly know something as a fact, I would never post it on the Internet (especially against another person) for the world to read. Just a friendly suggestion.   

Here is the link to the page of reviews of The Hidden Son on Amazon.


Dianna T. Benson is the award-winning and international bestselling author of The Hidden Son and Final Trimester. Persephone’s Fugitive is her third release. An EMT and a HazMat and FEMA Operative since 2005, Dianna authentically implements her medical and rescue experience and knowledge into all her suspense novels. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and their three children.


  1. Thanks for giving Dianna an opportunity to write this informative rebuttal. An author friend was recently skewered similarly in a review where the reviewer had made an incorrect assumption. Sometimes as humans we make snap judgements...but I hope more and more of us will learn to temper that with researching our assumptions first and using kindness and civility to communicate rather than wanting to inflict hurt with our typed words. Big hugs, Dianna, and your book sounds great!

  2. Dianna, It happens to us all. One reviewer got so hung up on milliliters and milligrams and dosage and stuff that she ended up saying she didn't like a best-selling novel of mine. Other commenters told her she was wrong, but she was sure she knew better. I let it ride. As Jordyn said, all we can do is put the story out there. But it appears there are lots of good reviews to balance this one. Congratulations.

  3. Great post! My brother-in-law was in a motorcycle accident some years ago and suffered 8 contusions on his brain. The initial prognosis was terrible: persistent vegetative state, if he survives at all. He has since made a full recovery, has four kids, holds a stable job and could well be a police officer he wanted to. He is whole again, God be praised.

    Now, as an author, yes it's difficult to get reviews that you just disagree with and there is that tension about whether you should respond or not. My stand is that if the review contains a blatant falsehood or delivers blatant misinformation, I'd respond to it. Otherwise, ignore it.

  4. Thanks for your comments - Jennifer, Richard and Mike. Yeah, reviews are what they are. People are funny. It felt right after 3 years to simply add to an MD's review, confirming the medical aspects are accurate. Thanks, Jordyn, for hosting me.