The book follows Clayton Otherson, a senior surgeon, as he makes life-threatening mistakes during Bariatric surgery in a New Orleans’ hospital. Mike Boudreaux, the chief of surgery, must discipline Otherson, his partner, colleague, mentor and friend. Even though Mike knows he must take action, he feels conflicted because he owes his education and his career success to Otherson. But when a patient dies from post-operative complications, there is no option but suspension. Otherson turns angry and vindictive, especially when his wife, Catherine, turns to Mike for help and support. Otherson is consumed with revenge and threatens violence. The consequences of the psychological and emotional effects on Catherine and Otherson’s marriage, on their daughter, Mellissa, and on Mike are dramatic and disastrous.
I found The Surgeon’s Wife by William H. Coles an interesting and fascinating read on several levels. Coles skilfully articulates the moral dilemma faced by doctors regarding Bariatric surgery (gastric bypass surgery) and its consequences for patients. The issue of financial gain over patient safety is also well presented, along with the conflict between personal values and corporate economic survival. The psychological and emotional journeys of all the main characters, Otherson, his wife and daughter, and Mike, are intriguing and compelling, while the dramatic ending is completely shocking and, in one aspect, unexpected. Fortunately, the denouement offers an inkling of hope for the future. If a reader is looking for drama in a surgical setting, I recommend this well-written book, The Surgeon’s Wife by William H. Coles.