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First Do No Harm
IMDB Rating: 6.9/10 from 1,212 votes
Release: 16 February 1997 (USA) /

First Do No Harm

Genre: Drama
Director: Jim Abrahams,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: When Lori Reimuller learns that her young son Robbie has epilepsy, she first trusts the judgment of the hospital staff in how best to bring it under control. As Robbie's health slides radically downhill, however, she becomes frustrated and desperate, and so does her own research into the existing literature on treatments. When she decides to try an alternative treatment called the Ketogenic Diet, devised long ago by a doctor from Johns Hopkins, she is met with narrow-minded resistance from Robbie's doctor, who is prepared to take legal action to prevent Lori from removing him from the hospital. This movie is an indictment of those in the medical profession who discuss only the treatment options they favor. Several of the minor characters are portrayed by people who have been not just helped, but cured by the Ketogenic diet. Written by Debra K. Day <[email protected]>

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Critic Reviews

In this alternately heartbreaking and uplifting drama inspired by actual events, a small town Midwest family discovers that their youngest son suffers from epilepsy. Left without hope after their insurance runs out, the mother presses on, studies everything she can find out about the illness, and, against the wishes of her local doctor, takes her son to Baltimore for treatment with the controversial ketogenetic diet.

The title of this movie-made-for-television, First Do No Harm, comes from the Hippocratic oath which doctors take as part of their vocation.

However, in many cases physicians are loath to recommend procedures not because they do anyone harm but because their efficacy is not supported by scientific research. This is the case when four-year-old Robbie (Seth Adkins) is diagnosed as having a type of epilepsy for which the cause is unknown. His parents, Lori (Meryl Streep) and Dave (Fred Ward), agree to a series of excruciating drug treatments which only seem to worsen his condition. Their situation becomes more complicated when they learn that their health insurance policy has lapsed.

Then Lori discovers a regimen called the Ketogenic Diet; one-third of the epileptic children on this diet have experienced no additional seizures. Robbie's parents are furious with his doctor (Allison Janney) for not telling them about this treatment and then refusing to facilitate their trying it. Instead, she recommends brain surgery for the boy.

The finale of the drama demonstrates the distance some families have to go to take control of the health and welfare of their loved ones. First Do No Harm presents a blistering attack on the rigidity and insensitivity of the medical establishment.

Outstanding performances from both Meryl Streep and child sensation, Seth Adkins. Definitely a 'must-watch!!'

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