Sarah Thompson, a 34 year old accountant and a single mother, wakes up in the middle of night unable to breathe and is admitted to the hospital. Hugh Harrison, a cardiologist, diagnoses heart failure and initiates treatment. He is struggling with his partners over irreconcilable differences in values. Thompson does not improve over a week of hospitalization. Dr. Steve Stone, an angry partner, assumes her care, criticizes Harrison’s management and changes therapy. Thompson dies quickly.
Her ex-husband, Doug, is a ne’er-do-well and joins with Sarah’s grieving parents to sue both physicians, the hospital, the cardiology practice and others. By that time, Harrison has joined a different cardiology group. There is a lot of finger pointing over fault in the unexpected death, which creates friction for the law firm tasked with defending both physicians. Likewise, the friction between Doug and the Szabos, Sarah’s parents, grows. On both sides bitter arguments and fights erupt as the claim makes it way past mediation and into the courtroom. Dennis Hart, their malpractice attorney, has an insurmountable challenge keeping his clients from harming each other.
In limbo is the daughter, Amy, who has Down syndrome and requires significant financial resources for her care, support that was lost with the death of Sarah. Doug has sporadic income and alcohol and drug issues. He is unfit as a parent. Ed Szabo is retirement age and takes care of Amy and his wife, Myra, who is disabled by grief and weight. Myra dies as an indirect result of an angry disagreement with Doug. Doug finds his way into jail for a different offense.
In an unrelated matter, Harrison finds unethical and potentially illegal behavior in his former group. He engages a whistleblower law firm to investigate the matter. They file a claim in federal court that further enrages his former partners.
In trial, both sides present their witnesses and facts. Since the care rendered by Harrison and Stone was vastly different, it is almost impossible to defend both. Yet, since they were partners, one firm must find a way. The jury verdict awards millions of dollars to Amy from the hospital, the cardiology group and Stone. Harrison is found not liable. The whistleblower matter ends with the Justice department fining the hospital and the cardiology group tens of millions of dollars and granting Harrison several million for his role in uncovering the breaches of law.
Perry returns to a theme of medical intrigue and conflict. Medical malpractice cases are often dramatic, especially when a young, successful person dies, leaving behind a child with special needs, who will require a lot resources throughout life. In this story, the survivors sue for millions of dollars, far above the insurance limits of the doctors and the practice and the stakes are extremely high.
It is a book of fiction. Any relationship between the characters and any person living or dead is purely coincidental and unintended.
That said, what the main character, Hugh Harrison, went through was loosely based on events from a period during my career in cardiology. I took these autobiographical experiences, threw them in a mental blender for almost twenty years then drizzled them onto the empty pages that became this book. I am not portrayed in the book, neither are any persons, living or dead. Any resemblance between characters in the book and real people is unintended.
All physicians who take care of sick patients have had some die. If they do so while under their care, it is emotionally challenging. Following the death of a woman (not in this story) shortly after I did a procedure, I had a recurring nightmare for a couple of decades. It had some variations but in essence I always sat at the wooden table in a barren room. Before me was a bottle of Scotch, a dirty glass and a handgun. I would speak with different people that had died under my care. The ghosts were never angry, just resigned to their state and disappointed in me. When the bottle is empty and I have scratched nonsense on a page, trying and failing to explain why, the dreams always end with the taste and smell of gunpowder from barrel in my mouth and the hammer moving back.
I had a very difficult decade in mid-to-late career with personal and professional disasters. As a medical malpractice suit raged on, similar to the one portrayed in this work, and costly battles with a number of colleagues, I left the full time practice of medicine to write. My early life passion for writing plays and screenplays transitioned to novels. Reality is often bitter. Fiction is whatever you make it. This is the third novel published. I have three more drafted and awaiting revision. And I am happy.
Practicing medicine is hard and has grown more unpleasant in the time I’ve practiced. I still work part time. This novel gives insight into one area of stress, medial liability in tort law. Being named in a malpractice claim is emotionally devastating. Having a patient unexpectedly die is also a crushing event. Medical divorce, as portrayed in the novel, is fractious and bitter. Combing all three in reality yields no winners in reality. The readers of Malpractice, however, can win as the book is, I remind you, fiction.
My favorite character in the story is Ed, the father of the deceased. He is one of the ordinary people in life that we all encounter who is steady, honest and committed, a hero of daily living.
REAP 23 garnered a lot of good reviews. This book has not yet been reviewed by professionals. Those fans who have read my previously published works say this is the best of my novels yet.
Copyright © 2018 JJ Perry, Author - All Rights Reserved.