J. Willis Mitchell’s debut novel, Medical Necessity (subtitled Sometimes the Worst Complication is Standing Right in Front of You), leaps confidently into a complex, gripping and often amusing story that could lose a reader unfamiliar with behind-the-scenes workings of healthcare if the story were in the hands of a less-skilled writer. Mitchell’s experience as writer, hospital CEO and marketing executive shows in his ability to take the reader on an astonishing tour of human character and lightning-fast story development while never letting the reader feel abandoned in an ocean of characters who manipulate healthcare regulation to their advantage.
Maybe it should be said that the characters also manipulate the lack of healthcare regulation to their advantage, because the author sets the tale of two hospitals and their staffs in the 1990s when the abuses of greed had become evident and necessary regulation was trying to catch up. Mitchell shows the need in a morality play that is entertaining and shocking. An evil for-profit hospital CEO vomits at the sight of blood, a disappointing first-born baby of the same hospital gets run over by an ambulance in the hospital parking lot and the subsequent cover-up spins out of control, greedy competent and incompetent doctors alike joust for position in a new outpatient facility, and patients die unnecessarily because of a lack of quality review and accountability.
The plot is tight and moves quickly. The author provides just enough background explanation of healthcare delivery to keep the reader informed while not bogging down the story. The characters stay true to form to the very end. There is no shortage of humor and irony, and this helps to flesh the characters in human skin. This is, after all, a morality play, so some stereotyping is required, but the people in the play through force of personality pull the reader into their world and account for themselves. Like a play, the author provides a cast of characters and their locales at the end of the book. His competent navigation system throughout the story renders this unnecessary, but it is a thoughtful touch.
I recommend this thriller to readers both inside and outside the healthcare field. Outsiders will feel informed and highly entertained, and insiders will feel this plus maybe some discomfort upon looking in a mirror. Mitchell’s book is a great read. Grab this one and have some fun!
Rated: 4 stars out of 5
Snowpack Public Relations – Publishing