Thursday, August 19, 2010

Let the Readers Decide: Ethical or Unethical? by Dr. Harry Saranchak, Author of Betrayal of Hippocrates

Today's special guest is Dr. Harry Saranchak, author of Betrayals of Hippocrates.

Dr. Alston Crowley’s medical career took flight on the wings of his parents’ dream. With fluctuating grades and a half-hearted desire to become a doctor, Alston much preferred to set his sights on specimens of the female variety. Not wishing to disappoint his parents, however, he decided to compromise, and set out for the Caribbean island of Montserrat, where he studied while basking in the natural beauty around him. Then, during his residency, the euphoria of paradise soon morphed into the harsh, clinical reality of New York Charity Hospital, where he met his nemesis, the brilliant practitioner, Dr. Maggie Finney. Under her relentless scrutiny, Alston’s medical career teetered on the brink of annihilation – until he was given a second chance to study at Physicians Scientific Research Institute in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, under the mentorship of Dr. Harry James Thornton, M.D., Ph.D.. At the Institute – metaphorically somewhere between Montserrat and Alcatraz, Alston’s life unexpectedly converged with researchers and practitioners in a tangled web of good versus evil.

The subject of everyone’s focus: tiny yellow, red, and green frogs, emitting a mysterious substance. In the right hands, the discovery had the potential to revolutionize medical science. When in the clutches of the sinister Dr. Vincent Edison Longfellow, however, it altered countless lives and generations, engendering debates about the definition of “life” and its preservation. The ensuing challenges were not for the faint of heart, and beckoned Alston and his colleagues to probe and question the integrity of their profession. Ultimately, they found their way home – to the core meaning of “justice,” and the true essence of themselves.

In this intense narrative, blended with intrigue, romance, and humor, author Harry J. Saranchak asks his readers to do the same. No one is immune to unethical practices and, where lives are at stake, the world is involved. Anyone, anywhere who has been privy to injustice must rise to the cause and have a voice.

Let the Readers Decide: Ethical or Unethical? by Dr. Harry Saranchak

As a retired general and vascular surgeon for over 30 years, I have seen many changes in the training of a physician, as well as a surgeon. My wife Kathy, who is also is and has been in the healthcare field for about the same amount of time as I, have many conversations regarding healthcare and ethics. Much of the material we write about is inspired by these chats.

There are some policies that we hear about from friends regarding prescriptions for instance.

Here is a typical scenario: A person goes to the doctor for back pain. The doctor runs tests, takes a full medical history, asks for a current list of medications, allergies to food or drugs, supplements, over the counter drug usage, herbs, sports drinks, etc. etc. etc., and comes to the conclusion/diagnosis: muscle spasm of the low back. Laymen’s terms. The doctor orders a muscle relaxant. The prescription is for say 30 tablets.

The patient goes to the pharmacy to have the prescription filled. The pharmacist asks if the patient has any questions about the medication. Along with the bottle of tablets is a medication education sheet, that is given to the patient. The patient pays for the medication, pays a co-pay or not, pays full price or not for the 30 tablets.

The patient takes the tablet according to the directions and about an hour later, begins feeling “ funny”. ( fill in the blank…..)

He calls the office of the doctor who prescribed the tablets, and is told by the doctor, to stop taking the pills and make another appointment, or is prescribed another medication, or treatment plan reassessed.

Problem: The patient, in some form, has paid for the 30 pills. Took 1. Now owns 29 tablets that he/she, cannot return to the pharmacy.

Now it’s time for the reader to decide. Is it ethical for a pharmacy to fill a prescription and not have a policy for returns of medication? Is it in the interest of business to fill medications in bottles, rather than in individual plastic packs, like drug samples?

Please note this one anecdotal story may be happening with medications that cost .05 per tablet, or $10.00 a tablet or more for thousands of people.

We offer this possible case an opportunity to think, react, question.

Betrayals of Hippocrates: Crimes against Innocence is about a research scientist who decides to further his experiments without any conscience or thought about the rights of a human being, no matter what the condition of that human being is.

It is a medical thriller, because bringing an entity to justice is a road paved with twists and turns, a thrill ride, if you will.

The case of a patient’s need for freedom from back pain, without creating an expensive in home pharmacy filled with unused, out dated medications can be just as important to our readers as Maggie and Alston’s need to bring darkness to light.

Dr. Harry J. Saranchak earned a B.A. degree cum laude from Georgetown and followed it with an M.D. from University of Connecticut School of Medicine. For 30 years he was a vascular and general surgeon in three Connecticut hospitals, and for 25 of those he was also educator and mentor to medical students, residents and colleagues—while receiving eight Golden Scalpel awards for teaching excellence. A Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Saranchak co-authored seven medical journal articles from 1974 to 1984. After retiring from his private practice at Grove Hill Medical Center in New Britain, CT, he wrote Betrayals of Hippocrates: Crimes Against Innocence.

You can visit his website at

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