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Contagion by Robin Cook, Book Review Example

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Book Review

Introduction to the Author, Robin Cooke

“Physician Robin Cook is best known for his series of medical thriller novels. Educated at some of the most world-renowned medical facilities, including Columbia University’s School of Medicine, and Harvard University, Cook’s novels are saturated with a considerable amount of medical knowledge. More often than not, Cook’s novels attempt to enlighten readers on aspects of the medical professional and the medical field as a whole that may potentially affect the general public.” (Hernandez, 2009).

Overview of the Book

The book commences with Theresa Hagen in the surgery room disoriented after haemorrhaging from losing her baby at five months of pregnancy. It is at that point that she realizes that she no longer loves her husband because he accuses her of trapping him into the marriage with the baby. He further states there is no reason for them to stay together as a couple. Next the story moves to the scene at the Chicago O’Hara airport where Marilyn Stapleton realizes her marriage to Dr. John is over and he must leave and she will stay behind with the girls for the school advantages. She states that they cannot afford private school on a resident’s salary.

Doctor Jack Stapleton loved his daily bike ride trip into the office. It was full of anxiety passing the cab drivers that would regularly cut him off on his way to work. He notice that the Pakistani cab drivers loved to taunt him in the morning and he enjoyed the playfulness at breakneck speed because it was a way of waking him up to ready him for his daily activities at work. Jack often referred that these close calls got his blood circulating in the morning. Jack would often curse back at the Pakistani drivers when they would cut him off at the green lights.

Jack had only been employed with the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office of New York for five months, but they had already offered him a position as associate medical examiner after finishing his pathology medical residency and year internship. Vinnie Amendola, mortuary technician was already there fast at work. Vinnie worked with Jack a lot. Laurie Montgomery, board certified pathologist also said hello to Jack on his way to his office. She had been employed there for four years and was always one of the first to arrive in the morning. Laurie always teased Jack about his bike rides into the office and his close calls with the trucks and the cab drivers. Laurie brought Jacks attention to the drug overdose and gun shot wound cadavers. Next she brought Jack’s attention to Donald Nodelman who had been diagnosed with an unknown infectious disease for cause of death. Jack noted that there was subcutaneous bleeding present. Laurie furthered Jacks query into the death by informing him the cadaver died at the hospital, particular Manhattan Hospital and was admitted for diabetes. Jack noted to Laurie that Manhattan Hospital is an Americare Hospital and he would have no greater pleasure than to see the hospital and corporation “squirm” for negligence.

Laurie gave Jack a bit of advice that his relationship with Calvin Washington the Deputy Chief are at odds and she is sure that it is a just a personality clash, but it was not to Jack’s advantage to be at odds with Calvin because he has a long standing relationship with the hospital and Americare has a good relationship with the mayor’s office.

Janice Jaeger, Physician Assistant, forensic pathologist is the medical officer who prepared the report on Donald Nodelman, who entered the hospital with diabetes and died with an unknown infectious disease. Jack got her medical opinion and took the report to do his investigation. Vinnie and Jack joked about the wearing of the “moon suit” while diagnosing infectious diseases. Jack was never for wearing the moon suits. He and the Deputy Chief were always at odds about this. Jack in this case was for wearing the moon suit since he was puzzled about the infectious disease. Vinnie and Jack both commented that the corpse was in terrible condition. There were extensive subcutaneous haemorrhages on the mans abdomen and legs. It was important to note there were no insect bites because a lot of infectious diseases are transmitted through arthropods. Jack noted to Vinne the technician the chances of this infectious disease being contagious were extremely high. Jack did not feel any need to isolate the cadaver though at this point because he was carefully getting rid of the organs securely.

Doctor Calvin Washington, Deputy Chief was pushing Jack for a verdict, but Jack said it was too soon to tell. Jack noted there were positive finding on the external exam of an infectious disease but of what nature it was still too soon to tell. The disease was in the lymphatics of the neck. There was a hunch it was spread airborne. Jack furthered the lab will give the conclusive results. He furthered if he had to guess a differential diagnosis at this stage it would be the same as in the hospital, pseudomonas or staph with toxic shock. He was thinking more on the lines of tularaemia or plague. These are all hospital based infections. These are based on the gram stain analysis.

Next the story moves back to Therese Hagen. Therese Hagen is very anxious and is in the running for CEO to succeed Brian Wilson. A meeting was called to discuss National Health. Therese sat across from Robert Baker, her nemesis. Helen Robinson worked under Robert as the account executive to National Health. Therese knew of the trouble with the National Health account a month ago when it was proposed she come up with a new advertising campaign if they wished to keep the account. It was quite apparent that the loss to AmeriCare in the New York metropolitan area has increased dramatically since the building of the new hospital. Phil Atkins, Chief Financial Officer added that restructuring was not an option at this time because the funds were not available to buy back the junk bonds to get the bottom line back.

The scene moves back to Jack conducting the autopsy of the infected disease cadaver. Another patient comes in with the same symptoms as Nodelman. His name is Mueller. His lungs are similar to Nodelman’s showing the early stages of tissue death. Calvin the Chief Deputy is curious and in on this particular autopsy from the very beginning. Jack is not surprised that the patients died so quickly with the diagnosis. He concentrated on the lungs, lymphatics, liver and spleen to make his diagnosis in autopsy.

Conclusion

In the end of the book, a black gang is hired first to scare then to kill Dr. Jack because of his revolutionized findings that over nine people contracted this disease from the hospital. It is further revealed that AmeriCare is involved in a conspiracy to kill off its most sickest patients because they are a liability to the company. The management of Manhattan Hospital resents Jack’s presence throughout the ending of the book as he discovers the true meaning behind the deaths. There is a connection between this HMO and the HMO that once destroyed Jack’s previous practise.

References

Robin C. (1996) Contagion New York, NY: Berkley Books

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