Paul E. Hardy
Barnes and Noble
"I loved it! You don't have to work in health care to enjoy this book."
—Joanne Glen, RN, President, Canadian Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates
"Riveting...This novel is a 'must read' for anyone who is contemplating a medical career or is interested in medical fiction."
—Dr. John G. Moffat, general surgeon
"Paul Hardy is a talented author who has published a novel about a fictional surgeon, Jim Smythe, in a busy community practice...Surgery residents in training and surgeons in practice will enjoy this novel of the cases and conflicts experienced in a tumultuous six-month period by a busy general surgeon."
—Chris Jamieson, President, Canadian Association of General Surgeons - Book Review
"It is a great pleasure to read well-crafted fiction written by physicians about physicians...Dr. Paul Hardy, a general surgeon practising in western Canada can count himself amongst the members the cadre of talented physician-writers...Hardy does an excellent job of telling such a story and anchors the outcome in frank realism."
—Derek Puddester, MD, Canadian Medical Association Journal, online edition
This novel follows Dr. Jim Smythe through the most tumultuous six months of his career thus far. At forty-four, the general surgeon is at the top of his game. Yet with doubts about his health, he finds himself under escalating pressure from the Medical Licensing Authority and his own hospital administration over a series of complaints. The situation reaches a breaking point in the emergency room, leading to a showdown where everything is on the line. Surgical Heights offers readers a fascinating inside view into the stress, risks and humour in the life a busy surgeon.
Book Excerpt from Surgical Heights:
Smythe was startled to hear Moira’s voice behind him. Still in the office at 6:30 . . . he should give her a raise.
“Jim, did you really mean to call the Hudspeth family ‘these bastards’?” Moira asked in her usual high-pitched tone. Unmarried and in her late forties, Moira was staunchly loyal to Smythe in her position as his sole office employee.
“What do you mean?” Smythe asked. Before she had a chance to reply, he added, “Of course not!”
“It’s just that in your letter to the referring doc, you’re saying ‘Mrs. Hudspeth and her family needs to think it over, and these bastards will get back to me when they’ve decided if they want to go ahead with surgery.’ I think your voice recognition software is going a little wonky these days. You know, I don’t mind typing your letters if this kind of thing is the alternative.”
Smythe ran a hand through his hair. “We’ve got to do something, that’s for sure. When my letter went out referring to a ‘Luke ileostomy’ instead of a ‘loop ileostomy’, it’s likely no one noticed. Even when I referred to heart ‘murmurs’ as ‘moaners’, probably most people missed it and a few had a chuckle. But ‘these bastards’—and in perfect context!” He shook his head. “It’s not good.”
“What did you actually say, Jim?”
“I have no idea.” His eyes brightening, he added, “We have to add a disclaimer after my signature, indicating any errors could be due to voice recognition software.”
“I can add that,” Moira said reassuringly.
“If that letter slipped through and someone who doesn’t know me read it, they could think I’m a lunatic. They might even complain to the Medical Licensing Authority!”
“I’ll fix it first thing tomorrow.” Slipping on her jacket and looking at the floor, she added, “Oh, this arrived late today.” She thrust a letter abruptly into Smythe’s hands and turned toward the doorway.
Without looking at the letter, Smythe wished Moira a good evening and walked down the hall, glancing into the empty room next to his consulting office. Such a waste of space. He thought he should get some exercise equipment. A small gym would be good for burning off excess energy while waiting for an operation. Smythe was convinced there was more than one type of energy, and that no matter how hard one worked, there was always some pent-up vitality waiting to be released. He’d order a rowing machine next week.
His office was neat and sparsely furnished. Surgical textbooks were displayed behind his large, mahogany desk, which had a big, comfortable swivel chair. Two chairs were across the desk, for a patient and a patient’s family member. There were a couple of smaller stools to pull up to the desk if more family members were present. A few anatomical posters decorated the wall. A door to Smythe’s left led to a small examining room.
As he sat down at his desk to do some quick paperwork, he looked at the plain white envelope Moira had handed him before she left: PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL. His heart rate increased. The return address—Medical Licensing Authority—could cause any doctor’s pulse rate and blood pressure to rise, no matter how confident he was. Smythe speculated that some sadistic employee at the Licensing Authority took great pleasure sending all its mail—even Christmas cards—stamped PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.
As he slit open the letter, his eyes widened. This was the real thing. His attention jumped to words and phrases across the page, without taking in the whole picture: COMPLAINT—Mrs. Hazel Kowalchuk—ALLEGATIONS—MISSED DIAGNOSIS—DAMAGES—RESPONSE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS—LEGAL COUNSEL—POWER TO REVOKE MEDICAL LICENSE.
His mind raced. If there was anything good in the letter, Smythe had missed it. Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? Who was Hazel Kowalchuk? He looked her up on his office computer. She wasn’t there; he must have seen her over ten months ago, which was when he’d transitioned his office to a paperless system. Suddenly, the security of his role as a surgeon was shaken. One serious complaint, if justified, could result in the loss of his medical license. And his license was what defined him. A threat to his ability to do surgery was an attack on his entire self.
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