Harbin (The Business Side of Medicine, 2012, etc.) investigates medical misadventure and malpractice at the top of the ophthalmology profession.
In 1983, H. Dwight Cavanagh, a professor of ophthalmology and department chairman at Emory University’s School of Medicine in Atlanta, prepared to do a corneal transplant on his patient. As usual, he was pressed for time, as he normally scheduled up to 13 procedures per day. His colleagues had previously expressed concern about his habit of biting off more than he could chew, and on this day, Harbin writes, the doctor’s overzealousness caught up with him, resulting in a botched operation that blinded his patient. The doctor eventually lost his job and titles—a small price to pay for such mayhem. Harbin tells an engaging story of a doctor that came to believe in his own infallibility and whose greed and thirst for power caused his patients irreparable harm. One sad element of the story, as presented by the author, is that the doctor’s malpractice didn’t go unnoticed by his peers; unfortunately, his status had long prevented accusations and complaints from being dealt with appropriately. If not for two conscientious doctors, the crimes might have been swept under the rug. The story covers events that occurred over the course of many years, necessitating gaps in chronology, but readers will never have a sense that they’re missing anything. The fact that Harbin is a physician adds immeasurably to his account’s integrity and believability, and his use of layman’s terms will make it easy for mainstream readers to understand. As a result, this narrative of medical misadventure is likely to interest anyone who’s ever put their faith and trust in a doctor.
A compelling story of medical tragedy.