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Coronary: A True Story of Medicine Gone Awry Hardcover – January 9, 2007

4.1 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Father John Corapi, a former accountant, was urged in 2002 to have immediate triple bypass surgery at Redding Medical Center. In fact, his coronary arteries were normal, and he and a former colleague persuaded the FBI to launch a criminal fraud investigation against the for-profit hospital, a renowned Northern California medical institution, and its two rainmakers, cardiologist Chae Hyun Moon and chief of cardiac surgery Fidel Realyvasquez. It soon became clear that the egotistical, abrasive, chain-smoking Moon and the highly ambitious, self-promoting Realyvasquez were performing numerous unnecessary procedures on gullible patients, with devastating consequences. Among the egregious examples of medical misconduct were unnecessary bypasses performed on Paul Alexandre, who became an invalid at age 36 after his sternum was permanently damaged during surgery, and on Shirley Wooten, a lively golden-ager whose surgery led to a fall that caused a fatal cerebral hemorrhage. Although it suffers from veteran newsman Klaidman's (Saving the Heart) lack of access to Moon and Realyvasquez, this well-researched and ably written account offers solid proof that American medicine is indeed "a mess." Readers may think the same about the legal system after learning that Alexandre and Wooten received only six-figure settlements while the Corapi walked away with millions, and neither doctor was prosecuted for a crime. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

If veteran journalist Klaidman wanted to show how to corrupt an already faulty medical system, he couldn't have chosen a better subject than the Redding (California) Medical Center scandal. All it took was a hospital owned by a multibillion-dollar corporation, Tenet Healthcare; two overly ambitious physicians; and thousands of people, including private insurers and Medicare personnel, willing to overlook questionable diagnoses. Millions were paid out for thousands of unnecessary bypass surgeries and other equally unjustifiable procedures. The compensation of cardiologist Chae Hyun Moon and cardiac surgeon Fidel Realyvasquez were directly tied to the profits of the hospital's heart program. And dozens of misdiagnosed patients suffered irreparable damage to their health, including death. Klaidman shows, too, a judicial system that allowed the physicians to walk away--no criminal charges were filed--and awarded cash settlements to victims and their families that, in the end, amounted to little more for the corporation than the cost of doing business. A story that grabs like fiction but frightens like fact. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (January 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743267540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743267540
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,333,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book reads easily, is full of suspense and intrigue like a novel. It is so amazing that this could have gone on! Being an RN myself, I can't imagine the total lack of peer review that apparently was the norm at RMC. My mother is also an RN who worked there with Moon and says the author's account of him rings absolutely true to her. This book needs to be read by more of the public to help them understand the mess the healthcare industry is and how important it is to be knowledgeable healthcare consumers. A big thanks to Klaidman for laying out this convoluted story in such a readable way!
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Format: Hardcover
This was a relatively fair telling of the RMC scandal that hit our community a few years back. Klaidman tries to present a complete picture of the main players to the readers and for those who are familiar with the story and the area, it is fascinating. I don't think he was fair, however, in saying that the local public was oblivious to what was going on. Many of us were quite aware of the overdiagnosis and excessive sugery but were only able to steer those we knew away from Moon and RV. We felt pretty powerless to stop a huge corporation and it's power-hungry minions.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This story of medical malfeasance at one of the nation's most celebrated hospital centers is an exhaustively researched page turner with a vibrant cast of characters and a plot that begs for an "Erin Brockovich"-type transformation to the big screen. There are doctors with out-of-control God-complexes and an array of medical practitioners who enable them; there are corporate scoundrels without conscience, whistle-blowers who are themselves something less than saints, and a dogged lawman who never gives up his pursuit of justice. And there are, of course, the patients & their families - the victims whose anguish is almost beyond reckoning. But "Coronary" merits five stars not just for what you'll find within its pages but also for what you will not find. Most importantly, there is no manipulation of facts or context to fit a preconceived theory on the part of the writer; there is no exploitation of human suffering for the sake of juicing up the drama, and there is no promiscuous use of quotation marks to reconstruct fading conversations -- a flaw that unfortunately, debases so much of contemporary non-fiction. Even leaving aside the likelihood that "Coronary" may well help to prevent future medical catastrophes like the one that is its subject, this book exemplifies investigative journalism at its best.
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Format: Hardcover
How much faith do have in your doctor? How do you really know if his or her recommendations are sound? Are the currently-popular health care and physician rating systems effective? Is the health care system appropriately monitored? These are just a few of the questions explored in "Coronary", written by Stephen Klaidman. In this book, Klaidman tells a detailed, dramatic, and shocking account of Redding Medical Center and the 2002 medical scandal that harmed over 700 patients in the name of profits. Redding Medical Center, a well-known, highly acclaimed cardiac hospital, housed two of the "nation's best" heart specialists. Together, they boasted some of the highest volumes of cardiac procedures in the nation, mainly because they were performing completely unnecessary surgeries on completely healthy patients, employing the opinion that "there's no money in the cure, there's only money in the treatment" (p.128).

Klaidman describes the story in detail, including the sting operation that ended in relatively unsubstantial monetary settlements for the victims and lenient disciplinary actions against the doctors. Unfortunately, the long descriptions used to describe everything in the story, from the history of Redding to the personal accounts of the lawyers involved detracted from his desired impact on the reader and made it a boring read in parts.

Personally, I found the psychological aspects of the book the most shocking. Many of the patients put blind faith in Dr. Moon, and those who sought second opinions lived in fear and doubt of their medical status, wondering if they were sick long after getting multiple clean bills of health. Additionally, it seemed as though both doctors actually believed they were practicing ethical medicine. This story, in book form or in the shorter version of news archives, is recommended to any person that has ever contemplated the value of a second opinion or questioned the integrity of health care in America.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In October 2002 Tenet Healthcare headquarters was stunned to learn that 600 FBI agents had just raided one of their hospitals in Northern CA, seizing documents, computers and other information for a whistleblower lawsuit that accused two highly-respected cardiac physicians of performing thousands of unnecessary, highly invasive surgeries on relatively healthy people in order to drive up the hospital's revenue. This book is a blow-by-blow description of those events.

Certainly subjective in its approach - telling all from the side of the doctors, patients, the FBI and the pile of plaintiff attorneys - it's nevertheless a compelling look at how the business of healthcare - and it is a business - has to walk a very fine line between the need to operate that business profitably and the obligation to provide quality, ethical healthcare at the same time. It's also a rather scary look at just how significantly members of the medical community differ from one another when it comes to diagnosis, treatment, and the clinical environment.

Years later, the community of Redding and the healthcare community at large are still sharply divided over what all really happened at this hospital, and there's so much we'll never know. There are some reviewers on Amazon (notably, two of the main doctor's relatives, so not exactly objective) who claim that the book is basically a work of fiction, about people making hysteria-driven accusations that were soon fueled even further by the fat pot of financial awards, but it's not quite that simple. I found the author's style slightly sensational, but not overly so and I expected that going in. This was a very broad and complicated series of events and he really only had one side of the story.
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