When ‘Do No Harm’ Turns Deadly: Buzz Builds for Terrifying Tale

medical treatment record

(DGIwire) — The first ethical principle every doctor is taught is “Primum non nicere,” Latin for “First, do no harm.” But someone at a fictional hospital has no qualms about violating this code of behavior and making a cat-and-mouse game of it. Why are patients dying and why is earnest young surgeon Steve Mitchell under suspicion?

If you like to lose yourself in a novel, in your cozy recliner or on your beach blanket, consider this heart-pounding story of a hospital-based serial killer. It’s the book that Stephen King recently called “the best damn medical thriller I’ve read in 25 years.” And the same book to which Library Journal gave a prestigious starred review for “building tension to a breathtaking climax.” Publishers Weekly wrote, “With a deft initial setup reminiscent of Grisham’s The Firm, urologist Parsons’ strong first novel paints a picture of the competitive, ego-driven realm of a world-class teaching hospital and the kind of personalities that thrive there… The attention to detail keeps the action chillingly plausible…”

If word of mouth has not yet reached you—well, this is author Kelly Parsons’ debut novel, Doing Harm. And if the medical scenes have the authenticity found in bestsellers by doctor authors Robin Cook and Michael Crichton, it’s no surprise. Kelly Parsons, M.D. is a highly respected surgeon and faculty member at UC San Diego.

The fast-paced thriller, which King further praised as having  “terrifying OR scenes” and “characters with real texture,” centers around Steve Mitchell, happily married with a wife and two kids, and in line for a coveted position at Boston’s University Hospital when his world goes awry. His overreaching ambition causes him to botch a major surgery, and another of his patients mysteriously dies. Steve’s nightmare goes from bad to worse when he learns that the mysterious death was no accident but the act of a sociopath. A sociopath who has information that could destroy Steve’s career and marriage. A sociopath for whom killing is more than a means to an end: it’s a game.

Because he is under a cloud of suspicion, Steve knows that any accusations he makes won’t be believed, so he must struggle to turn the tables—even as the killer skillfully blocks his every move. In telling its engrossing story, Doing Harm also details the politics of hospitals, the hierarchy among doctors and the life-and-death decisions that are made by flawed human beings.

So how did this busy doctor find the spare time—in addition to his medical and teaching responsibilities, he is married with two school-age children—to write his book, as many professionals say they wish they could do? The author candidly admits he had to sacrifice some sleep and free time to keep to a rigorous writing schedule. “But I do think, as with many other things in life, there’s luck involved in getting a book published,” Parsons adds, with typical modesty.

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