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Surgeon Meets Malpractice Attorney


What do you get if you cross an medical malpractice attorney with a surgeon?

In Scalpel, a novel by Dr. Joel Berman, you get a dead medical malpractice attorney – in fact, several of them. Berman’s main character – who, Berman insists, is not his alter ego -- is a mysterious surgeon who is tired of attorneys who relentlessly pursue medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors who have done nothing wrong. The attorneys stop at nothing to ruin the careers and lives of their victims.

One surgeon, whose wife committed suicide because she was hounded by a medical malpractice attorney, decides to fight back. He’s committed to reintroducing justice into the system—but his own kind of justice, administered in his own way.

Malpractice attorneys begin to turn up dead. Each one is uniquely executed—and surgically altered in bizarre and disturbing ways. There are no fingerprints and no blood. Few clues are left behind. Usable evidence is sparse. And the killer, as he contemplates what he’s accomplished, silently dedicates each murder to the memory of his beloved wife. The police detective assigned to this case, Septimus “Mac” McClymonds, soon confirms that he is in a battle of wits with a most unusual and highly intelligent serial killer.

Scalpel is a tongue-in-cheek look at the world of medical malpractice and how it affects physicians. Interestingly, Scalpel’s author is Dr. Berman, a distinguished physician who serves as chief of surgery at his hospital, a director of a Center for Breast Care, and an Associate Professor of Surgery at USC Medical Center.

Dr. Berman says, “Being sued, whether reasonably or not, often creates the most stressful time in a doctor’s professional life. A looming medical malpractice case is always fraught with anger, depression, self-righteous indignation, and unfortunately in a few cases, suicide.” He explains that most physicians maintain a very high standard of practice. And when, as human beings are apt to do, they commit errors of judgment, omission or commission, they are devastated when assaulted by the seemingly unfeeling malpractice attorneys.

So does Dr. Berman have any sympathy for the homicidal surgeon in Scalpel? “None whatsoever,” Dr. Berman claims.

By Dr. Joel Berman
Juniper Springs Press
Hardcover, $29.95

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