Dr. Matt Drummond is overwhelmed by police brutality and the racial suffering of men, women and children. Then the 1967 Detroit riot. Matt is as burned out as the city. Forty-three civilians are dead.
Obsessed with helping the victims he comes in conflict with the drug traffickers, numbers runners, rogue police, criminal abortionists and pimps. “The dealers of pain” frame him for an illegal abortion death.
Dr. Drummond is pursued by Detroit homicide and the criminals who need him dead.
An eclectic band of the street-wise: prostitutes, Black Panthers, Baptist ministers and professional fighters come together in a dangerous, desperate, long -shot attempt to save him.
This Month's Featured Reading
The Tuskegee Airmen
The idea for this story came to me when I was a resident at the University of Virginia. An elderly black man was admitted to the medical service and we discovered he had undiagnosed tertiary syphilis. I wondered how this could happen in 1980.
I later learned of the Tuskegee syphilis study. The study began in 1926. Financed by Julius Rosenwald (President of Sears and Roebuck) a philanthropy was started to improve the socioeconomic conditions for African-Americans in the rural South.
Medical care was a priority. A major health concern was the high incidence of syphilis in Macon County Georgia. The study was approved to document, diagnose and then treat the patients with mercury. (An evening with Venus, a lifetime with Mercury)
With the 1929 stock market crash there was no money for treatment. In 1932 the study fell into the hands of the Public Health Service and it became “The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.” It continued for forty years, long after penicillin was available for cure, and was “the longest non-therapeutic experiment on human beings in history.”
There was no informed consent and the subjects were bribed and misled into the study.
Six hundred men entered the study, 400 with syphilis and 200 controls.
The study was well known throughout academe. Results of the study were unashamedly published in major medical journals.
In 1965 Dr. Irwin Shatz of Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital was the first to formally question the ethics of the study. The CDC reviewed the study in 1969 and thought it should continue.
Peter Bruxton leaked the story to the Associated Press.
The study was stopped in 1972.
Hundreds died for lack of treatment, 40 wives became infected and 19 children were born with congenital syphilis.
In the same area as the Tuskegee Study emerged the Tuskegee Airmen. These heroes of World War Two are an example of the benefits that can be achieved when our common decency prevails over racism.
It is puzzling that two such events could exist side by side.
I highlight this story in recognition of black history month.
I had to give my supervising resident, Dr. Robin Richards, the bad news. This was no way to meet him. I picked up the phone, paged him, and waited. The more experienced and confident the resident, the longer you could expect to have a call returned. The phone rang and I answered it. “Don’t ever answer that phone. That’s the secretary’s…
I tell stories of mystery and suspense; it’s fun. I draw on my long career in the practice of medicine. I have been inspired by people and events, and occasionally disturbed.
I like to tell a good story but would also like to expose the reader to a pernicious and perhaps unalterable change in healthcare. That is the domination of the doctor-patient relationship by computers and bureaucrats.