I had a neighbor many years ago who was the ultimate busybody. He knew more than anyone --- even more than me! --- about any subject. He could tell you how you were mowing the lawn the wrong way, washing your car incorrectly, you name it --- you were doing it wrong and you were entitled to his opinion concerning how to do it correctly.
This neighbor passed to the other side several years ago, but I still think of him whenever a medical procedure performed on a member of my family has been turned down for payment by our medical insurance carrier due to "inappropriateness of procedure," or some such twaddle. If a doctor up to his elbows in claret thinks a procedure is appropriate then a second-guess by a paperpusher is de minimis. Or at least it should be. But that's not the way a large part of the world works anymore, which means that a large part of the world does not work well.
Peter Clement is a former emergency room physician who is now in private practice and who has been writing novels as a second career for a few years now. I have never had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Clement but I am pretty sure, based on a reading of THE PROCEDURE, his latest novel, that if we had an extended conversation he could tell me any number of horror stories about insurance carriers and HMOs.
Actually, I'd also bet that a number of those stories, cleverly but transparently disguised as fiction, are included in THE PROCEDURE. It is no surprise that the chief protagonist of THE PROCEDURE is Dr. Earl Garnet, the principled emergency room head of St. Paul's Hospital in Buffalo, New York. Garnet becomes incensed when Brama, a powerful HMO, subtly discourages one of its insured from obtaining treatment for an infant, resulting in the child's death. Garnet, angered by the callous disregard of the HMO, sounds off to the media about it, naming names and coining the phrase "no-fault murder." This earns Garnet the enmity of Brama --- and some of his fellow physicians at St. Paul's, when Brama begins an unofficial, secret boycott of the hospital. Things become worse when a doctor at the hospital is a victim of a gruesome slaying in the hospital parking lot. When an attempt is made on Garnet's own life, he begins an investigation of his own, which leads him to a suspicious substance abuse rehabilitation clinic in Mexico --- a clinic that has shadowy ties to Brama. The HMO, however, is not the only entity in THE PROCEDURE that wishes Garnet harm. He is soon involved in a race against the clock to save his practice, his reputation, and his life.
Clement, with each successive book, is gradually shouldering his way to the front of the pack of authors writing medical thrillers. It appears, based on the strength of THE PROCEDURE, that it will not be too long before his name becomes synonymous with the genre. He is definitely an author who bears watching and, more importantly, reading.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on May 29, 2001
- Publication Date: May 29, 2001
- Genres: Thriller
- Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Fawcett
- ISBN-10: 0449006220
- ISBN-13: 9780449006221