SALESMAN/SURGEON by William with Maureen Mylander MacKay


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Widespread coverage of this medical supply salesman's career in orthopedic ""ghost surgery"" might have prompted this to be a purely sensationalized cash-in attempt. However, despite occasional forays into braggadocio (to listen to MacKay, he saved just about every ""total joint"" operation in Long Island), and after-the-fact moralism (We get the kind of medical care we deserve""), the book manages to be a riveting portrayal of operating-room atmosphere and the mechanical nature of procedures involving ""templates, saws, and chisels."" Self-styled ""bone carpenter"" MacKay left school in the ninth grade, worked briefly as horse trainer, tree surgeon, employment agency owner, etc., until he became an orthopedic supply salesman in 1973. The extremely competitive nature of the business, coupled with a longing to emulate a physician-figure, led MacKay to offer the last ounce of service--to the point of sitting in on classes with residents, swiping cadavers from one hospital to give to a client hospital, stealing amputated legs to practice on in his garage, and becoming a specialist in implants through participation in surgeries (he refuses to name the number for fear of frightening the reader). The single most alarming revelation, however, is not how many medical supply salesmen ""scrub"" for surgery, but the degree of incompetence and technical ignorance that the ""real"" medical experts exhibit. When the media ""unmask"" MacKay, and several doctors are indicted along with an operating room supervisor and their hospital, it is all the more disquieting to note that political considerations led to the dropping of charges. Not for insomniacs, still less for hypochondriacs, but for those who would keep informed.

Pub Date: Nov. 19th, 1978
Publisher: McGraw-Hill