Morton’s Fork – Modern Medical Malpractice Thriller

Book Review by Michelle Perron and Chuck Sink –

Morton’s Fork is a modern medical drama set in 2012 revolving around the life of Doctor Roger Hartley, an extremely hard-working and dedicated 46 year-old physician. Here is a man who sacrifices most of his waking hours, at the expense of his dear and precious family life, to care for his patients within a healthcare system that seems only to punish an individual’s professional dedication and care.  Morton’s Fork stages a cast of characters who represent most of the major healthcare constituencies of today. They include two physician co-workers of Doctor Hartley’s hired by an insurance conglomerate to control costs, members of insurance companies who have the right to deny care, a plaintiff patient, a big name malpractice lawyer and political activists from both parties. Dr Hartley’s wife Celeste and his four children are also critical to the story’s plot.

Early in the book, the family and professional life of Dr. Hartley are each painted vividly and then skillfully interwoven as the professional side of his life begins to supersede and overwhelm the family life.  Emotionally and spiritually, Dr. Hartley’s actions begin to spiral out of control after he is presented with a lawsuit from an uninsured non-compliant patient.  A series of subsequent events cause him to commit a rash and irresponsible act born of arguably justifiable passion. A national high visibility trial ensues as a result, publically exposing systemic problems in the U.S. Legal, Political and Medical communities.

During Doctor Hartley’s trial and the events leading up to it, the reader gains an understanding of our current healthcare issues, including Tort Reform, Defensive Medicine, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka “Obama Care.” All sides are presented with thoughtful arguments. Villains and heroes evolve as the story unfolds.

The book is a page-turner in league with some of the best thriller novels.  The undercurrents go much deeper than exploring legal-medical-political issues in the country. The author skillfully plants moral and spiritual challenges throughout the book that each reader can ponder for himself.  The shocking ending will literally stun the reader into deep contemplation. It begs the author for a sequel in 2013.

As an insurance broker specializing in helping physicians with malpractice insurance, I can see Doctor Hartley in many of my clients; overly dedicated physicians who care for their patients with increasing expenses and reduction in payments from insurance carriers. I have seen physicians struggle with many frivolous malpractice cases and often wonder how they still practice.

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The author, Doctor Coy is a Board Certified gastroenterologist practicing medicine in group practice in Illinois.  He graduated from Ohio State University School of Medicine and completed his training in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology at Northwestern University.  Most notable is his philosophy of care in an accurate and expedient diagnosis of the patient’s illness and adherence to the highest quality of medical care. His bedside manner is professional and friendly while treating patient problems.

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