The Consulting Writer

aka The Frazzled Mom

The Master of Medical Horror: Robin Cook

Note: If you have not seen the recently television aired Coma (2012 miniseries), you might not want to read. This post contains spoilers.

I know some might argue that I should say Michael Crichton. And yes, Crichton has come out with a number of excellent books (that were later ruined as a movie). If you haven’t read any of his books, might I recommend some of the following:

  • Jurassic Park
  • Lost World (sequel to Jurassic Park)
  • Sphere
  • Andromeda Strain (my favorite)
  • A Case of Need

Michael Crichton will be truly missed. He had an amazing talent with weaving fiction and nonfiction science and medical alike. A Case of Need was the first Crichton book I had read. After finishing it, I knew this was a talented author whose books I would continue reading.

For those of you that are more interested in heavy medical themed thrillers, Robin Cook is the author for you. Here is a list of only a few of the many great books he has written:

Harmful Intent
Contagion (I love stories these types of stories)

Cook has maintained success by writing with current times. He has found his niche and obviously keeps himself well informed and educated. It probably helps that he has worked in the medical field as well.

With that said, both authors have had books translated to film with some success, though any reader will tell you that they were nothing like the book. Just once, I’d love to see a really good book made  exactly as it was written (yeah right). Books that I’ve seen ruined by film:

Jurassic Park, Lost World and III – one thing I really hate is when they change characters around. The girl ends up being computer geek in the movie. Why? Women’s lib or something? It wasn’t written that way, why change it?. It’s even worse when they cut out really cool sections (Pterodactyl atrium, later thrown into III).

Andromeda Strain – the made for tv version, the 1971 movie was fair good.

Sphere – had so much potential in the book, but missed the mark by a mile!

Outbreak – it was sort of good, but could have been a lot better. One movie that involved an outbreak that I really enjoyed was Contagion. Funny thing is events like these happen each year as new strains, but the movie made it feel more fast paced and exciting.

Spoilers to Coma (2012) television miniseries below.





Coma – I had actually enjoyed watching the 1978. The idea of purposefully putting patients into comas to keep their bodies for eventual organ harvesting. Creepy. But the remake done for television recently (2012), was a great way to update this favorite story of mine. Since harvesting organs is soon to be obsolete, with the growing ability to, err “grow” organs in a lab or provide an artificial organ, using the same idea for a different reason was necessary. I was happy with the idea they used to make it more relevant now. Using coma patients for clinical trials. Working in the medical field, specifically in oncology, in order for facilities to be eligible and pass the Commission on Cancer survey, they were required to have at least 2% of their total cancer program patient population enrolled in clinical trials. Since the change in standards, that percentage has increased to 4%. Those facilities that would like to receive commendation need to enroll over 6%.

Enrolling patients in clinical trials is a difficult process. First, you must have a patient willing to participate in the trial (and hope they are compliant). Second, you hope the patient that is willing is also eligible. Some trials have so many restrictions, it limits the patients available for enrollment. What if a facility desperately wanted to pass survey, but did not have the percentage needed to meet the clinical trial numbers? They would receive a deficiency and might possibly not pass if they cannot resolve that deficiency. I’ve not seen the actual numbers, by I’ve heard mention by several prominent speakers, that clinical trial accruals in the United States are much lower than in other parts of the world (say Europe for example). I understand adding clinical trials as a standard, but setting a percentage as a requirement? Research groups need participants, but at what cost? And that is exactly the point of this story. Finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, cancer, genetic disorders, diabetes – what price are we willing to pay for these cures to be available…..for our children and our children’s children?


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