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Hospitalist’s “Whodunit” Tackles Ethical Concerns


Gil Porat, MD

Many hospitalists face mysteries at work every day: a new admission’s enigmatic symptoms, inexplicable protocols for coding and other documentation—even the mystery of the missing chart.

One physician has created a much greater and more interesting mystery. Gil Porat, MD, a hospitalist with Colorado Springs Health Partners, just had his first novel, The Other Face of Murder, published by Alondra Press in April.

A Second Career

Dr. Porat worked on the novel steadily for years, starting during his residency. “I’ve been practicing medicine as a hospitalist for about five years now, so this novel has been a longer journey than medical school for me,” he admits.

His regular schedule, along with his dedication to writing, allowed him to finish the novel while working full time. “As a hospitalist, I work seven days on, seven days off, and that’s a terrific way to manage a second career,” explains Dr. Porat. “I spend my week off with my family—I have a wife and two boys—and on writing.”

Heavy Subject

The Other Face of Murder opens with a young physician stumbling across the corpse of his friend after hosting a dinner party. While it’s an entertaining mystery, the book also addresses deeper themes. As the physician investigates his friend’s untimely demise, he discovers not just “whodunit,” but ethical controversies behind the death.

“I did my residency in Oregon, which is the only state that has legalized physician-assisted suicide,” Dr. Porat notes. “The book discusses this, but it also discusses a lot of bioethical conundrums in medicine, including end-of-life care. It always disturbs physicians and staff to see a lot of suffering in end-of-life care; a big theme in the book is that we should be doing more palliative care [for these patients] and less intrusive care.”

Dr. Porat says he wrote the book for average mystery readers who may not be aware of these medical issues.

“My goal was to do more than just entertain; I wanted to teach some of the lessons that I’ve learned along the way,” he says. “Very little is heard in society regarding end-of-life issues. I hope this book will stimulate discussion about this in the general public.”

With his first published novel on the shelves, Dr. Porat has not taken a break. “I’m already working on a second book,” he says, “and that too will have a medical theme.” TH

Jane Jerrard is a medical writer based in Chicago.

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