Why Do Some Doctors Get Away With Murder? by M. Maitland DeLand, M.D.
One of the great expressions about fiction writing is that “We tell untruths to arrive at truths.”
That’s why I started writing novels, and especially that’s why I started writing medical thrillers.
Doctors save lives. We deliver babies and save babies. We help prevent disease, we treat disease, and we can often cure disease. The power of life and death is often in our hands.
The problem is that power can corrupt, and some doctors, unfortunately, are not immune to the kind of corruption that human nature permits.
It’s not unheard of that a doctor’s practice is valued and sold at exorbitant prices (above millions!). What does the doctor have to do to make that kind of money?
The reality is that the foundation of many such practices involves prescribing tests for people who don’t need those tests. For example, octogenarian women getting prescriptions for date rape drugs or angel dust. Really? Really.
While the overwhelming majority of my peers are honest and deeply committed to the wellbeing of their patients, there are more than enough bad actors who are putting their own financial health ahead of their patients’ physical health.
And all too often, they are beyond the reach of anyone who could discipline them…or even admonish them and tell them to straighten up.
So that’s why I decided to write a series of novels about medicine and murder.
I thought, why not share what I know about the realities (both good and bad!) of the medical system, and do so in a way that would be enjoyable to read for the broadest possible audience?
That was the foundation of Nashville Mercy.
Nashville Mercy tells the story of an imaginary – but all too real – hospital in a major metropolitan area, a medical center probably not unlike the one where you or a loved one might be taken in the event of a medical emergency.
Ninety nine percent of the people working in that hospital, from cardiologists to custodians, are wonderful, decent, moral people.
But it’s that one percent who can cause outsized levels of damage…to patients, to the financial system, and to the reputation of the hospital itself.
A doctor has enormous temptation to order up tests or perform procedures that are lucrative but unnecessary.
The good ones would never give in to that temptation.
But that bad ones don’t see it as a form of evil to avoid. They see it as an opportunity to exploit.
And they do.
With the result that people get treatment, tests, drugs, and even operations that they never, ever needed.
This is wrong.
I wrote Nashville Mercy to shed light on these practices, that exist in too many communities.
If it were an isolated incident, it wouldn’t be worth a novel.
But it happens all too often.
And the public needs to know.
Doctors make the grim joke that they bury at least half their mistakes.
Well, it’s time for someone to step up and say, let’s stop making these mistakes. Let’s stop allowing doctors to get away with murder.
Hmm…doctors getting away with murder…sounds like an idea for a novel!
Dr. M. Maitland DeLand will publish her debut murder mystery novel, Nashville Mercy, in March 2015. She is a children’s author, radiation oncologist and founder of OncoLogics, a group of cancer treatment centers in the southern United States.
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