follows the lives of five surgeons at Chelsea General where they are waging that their skills are more powerful than the brain tumor at hand or stable enough to conduct coronary artery bypass grafting. When something goes wrong, these doctors must answer for their mistakes at the Morbidity and Mortality conference; it is considered one of the most secretive meetings in all of medicine.
Sanjay Gupta, an American neurosurgeon, who publishes a column in Time magazine, signed his new book and spoke with Heather Reisman, Indigo CEO, at the Indigo Manulife bookstore in midtown Toronto.
In their discussion, Gupta touched upon his work in Haiti, his experience and thoughts in medicine, his colleagues, the book and the upcoming television series based on his novel, “Chelsea General.”
Gupta has made headlines since the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Since 2010, Gupta has treated patients, reported on the situation on the ground and has captivated viewers by examining a 15-day-old baby with a head injury
, whose mother had perished in the earthquake.
Before getting into his novel, Gupta quickly talked about the “optics” of Haiti right now, which he says it doesn’t look a lot different than it did two years ago.
“There is so much rubble on the street still,” said Gupta. “We saw all the images and it’s so relevant because it seems getting anything done, bringing in equipment to clean up debris [and] to rebuild, you need to get from point A to point B, and the rubble in the streets makes that really hard to do. I’ve heard that it will take four years to clean up the rubble.”
He called it an “amazing place to be,” but noted that it needs real leadership in order for the country to stabilize. One major problem he identified was the paucity of clean water, which leads to various diseases and illnesses in Haiti.
Gupta espoused that “medicine is an art” after Reisman said that patients depend on their doctors to be 100 percent all the time. He conceded that mistakes do happen from time to time, but also stated that we know things now that can reduce mistakes, such as being properly sanitized.
He has never lost a patient on the table, but has had patients who have died in an emergency room.
“I think any doctor you talk to will tell you they have spent time in front of this room [M&M conference}. It really indicated what is a mistake,” explained Gupta. “An example being if a patient has significant bleeding and you find out that a relative they didn’t have contact with also had a bleeding disorder, but you didn’t indicate that in the patient’s history; is that a mistake?”
According to a press release
issued in December, TNT has ordered a pilot for “Chelsea General.”
It is a medical drama series from award-winning David E. Kelly (executive producer), who also wrote the pilot for the series.
Gupta said Wednesday that his favorite character is Dr. Jorge Villanueva, who is being portrayed by Ving Rhames. The show will also star Alfred Molina, Jonathan Silverman, Tara Summers and Jennifer Finnigan.
Although he is not in charge of casting, Gupta stated that the characters in the book, which are composites of people he has met in his life, are like his “children.” He told the audience that the purest character of them all is Villanueva.