We’ve taken our fair share of shots at CNN’s famous neurosurgeon TV star. Given his commanding platform, we’ve been genuinely annoyed by Dr. Gupta's less than honest response to critics of the U.S. health care or medical malpractice systems. I never knew how much of Dr. Gupta’s problem was due to his own general biases, or that he had so little time to prepare for his CNN gigs (being a neurosurgeon and all) that he was relying for information on producers who were either ignorant or full of crap.
Or maybe it had something to do with being on CNN. I say this because yesterday, Gupta was on the CBS show Sunday Morning, talking about his new novel (yes that's right, another career), called Monday Mornings. The book is based on the secretive weekly meeting at our country’s teaching hospitals where they openly discuss their errors! That's right - doctors not only sometimes commit horrible errors but also, they admit it. Who knew? (They sure don't want patients to know about this.)
While I was expecting yet another health care apology from Dr. Gupta, that’s not what we got. What Dr. Gupta said was pretty bone-chilling. Here is some of it:
I remember a doctor who presented a mistake so reckless and uncaring that I wanted to stand up and throttle him. I didn't have to. One of my colleagues doled out a much more appropriate punishment: He pulled a newspaper out of his pocket, and began reading the obituary of the recently-deceased patient. She was somebody's mother, she was somebody's daughter.
That doctor lost his medical privileges.
… In the book, I put my characters where no doctor wants to be - confronting errors. For obvious reasons, it's fiction. But the issues that I take on are very real.
My hope in writing this book is to put medical mistakes under the microscope. I'd like to help people understand the challenges and the concerns that confront real patients and real medical professionals.
Our common goal. patients and doctors alike, should be to eliminate error. To do so, the medical profession must be vigilant . . . and the public must be educated. It takes all of us to build a better system.
The book is out Tuesday.