Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Allen Wyler's "Deadly Errors"

Allen Wyler is an internationally renown neurosurgeon and author of the thrillers, Deadly Errors and Dead Head.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to Deadly Errors, and came up with:
Page 99 starts in the middle of a conversation between two minor characters and doesn’t give the flavor of the story or the writing. So I’d rather tell you about the plot.

In my practice, ideas for stories hit me at the most bizarre times. This book, for example. While serving on a committee to select a computerized medical records system for our medical center, I started wondering what might happen if the software had a bug that intermittently corrupted patient information. Could this ultimately kill patients? Yeah, probably. So this became the story’s kernel.

The push to switch from paper to electronic medical records is for a very good reason: computerization cuts down errors. Which is not a trivial issue. A 1999 study by the Institute of Medicine, To Err Is Human: Building A Safer Health System, reported that as many as 44,000 to 98,000 people die in hospitals each year from preventable medical errors. This makes preventable medical errors this country’s eighth leading cause of death — higher than motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS. About 7,000 people per year are estimated to die from medication errors alone. Although computers can definitely lower such errors, are they infallible? Shortly after the hardcover of Errors was released, I was contacted by a lawyer who specializes in just such cases. Scary.

So, the story goes like this: after fingering his boss for bilking Medicare out of millions, neurosurgeon Tyler Matthews framed for drug abuse and forced to complete a mandatory drug rehab program. After leaving San Francisco, he start his career over at a Seattle hospital. There he begins to suspect that the medical center’s revolutionary computerized medical records system is causing errors that kill patients. When he brings his concerns to management, he is not only scorned, but his life is put in danger and another potential whistle-blower turns up dead.
Read an excerpt from Deadly Errors, and learn more about the author and his work at Allen Wyler's website.

The Page 69 Test: Dead Head.

My Book, The Movie: Deadly Errors.

--Marshal Zeringue