12 March 2023

Marchetti's Inferno by Douglas Ratner, M.D. Review!


Imagine the thrill of witnessing your 11-year-old meningitis patient suddenly regaining consciousness after coming close to losing his life. Or the satisfaction diagnosing a rare cardiac complication in a middle-aged man whose only symptom was persistent hiccupping.

Introducing Dr. Dan Marchetti, a brilliant and promising first-year intern with remarkable clinical instincts, a rising star if you will. However, Dan finds his confidence beginning to shatter after his patients periodically succumb to their illnesses due to a series of medical ‘mishaps’ that cast doubt on the care he provided. The besieged intern is subsequently charged with the homicides of some of his own patients, deaths clearly perpetrated by a hospital insider with keen knowledge of how to manipulate medical devices in order to expedite a patient’s demise. The list of victims includes Trey Hartmann, a rookie star pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Marchetti must find a way to keep his love for the profession intact, while confronting this invisible character.

Douglas Ratner’s work in healthcare transformation, The Wealth from Health® Playbook: The Dramatic Path Forward in Healthcare Spawned by the Covid-19 Pandemic was published in April, 2021. His Wealth from Health Playbook has garnered; The 2015 Gage Award from the America’s Essential Hospitals, Hearst Health Award 2016, and The New Jersey Health Hero Award 2017.

Ratner is a retired New Jersey physician and Chair of Medicine at Jersey City Medical Center-RWJBarnabas Health (JCMC). He overlooks hospitals and enjoys life with his grandchildren, Salem and Mirah, his children, Jess and Dave, and his wonderful wife, Linda.

“Almost midnight already,” Dante Marchetti said to himself as he stole a
glance at his new watch and made tracks for the on-call room to catch a little nap while he could. Admiring the bright-yellow face, light-blue trim, and black Velcro wristband, he discovered he’d neglected to remove the $12.99 price tag from his Amazon special. He could feel his face redden as he peeled off the tiny sticker and tucked it into one pocket of the spanking-new white coat he wore over his scrubs.

At twenty-eight, he was three years older than many of his fellow interns. Following college, he’d spent a few years traveling Europe, working as a waiter and an English teacher while experiencing the cultures of Italy, France, and Switzerland. After several months, boredom set in, so he decided to do something about it. Crashing the study materials, he aced the MCATS and bang, got accepted into a few medical schools: a feat that surprised him more
than others.

Running, sports, and close attention to his diet, had kept his six-foot-one
frame lean and toned, but he’d never thought of the face he saw in a mirror as handsome. There was no mistaking his Italian heritage—when, at twelve, he’d lamented his Marchetti nose, his mom had suggested he “think of it as ‘definitive’.” But those genetics also bestowed an easy tan, dark-brown eyes, and curly hair. And through the years, more than one girl had commented on his ‘endearing grin’ and kind eyes.
After hanging his white coat on the rack above his cot in the on-call room,

Dan noticed, for the first time, the spaghetti stain on one pants leg of his light- blue scrubs. “Come on, man, what kind of shit is this?” he muttered under his breath. He wondered how many people had seen it—patients, his superiors, other medical colleagues? Stains, price tags left in place, what a fuckin’ disaster. What’s next? A booger hanging from his nose? What had Dr. Hugh Ballard, revered Chairman of Medicine and the Director of the Residency

Program, noticed? How could patients trust a doctor to manage life and death if he couldn’t keep spaghetti sauce off his trousers?
Glancing around, he took in the pale-green walls and mismatched chairs,
the dog-eared medical journals heaped in one corner, and empty Styrofoam containers crowding the battered nightstand mixed with the smell of days-old sweat. Not only did he not look the part, he didn’t feel the part, which was much more worrisome. Furthermore, the vagaries of scheduling had dropped him directly into the risk-fraught world of the coronary care unit (CCU) for his first rotation.

His thoughts touched on the epic poem Inferno by his namesake, Dante
Alighieri. With a little chill, he remembered the end of the lengthy cautionary
inscription over Dante’s gates of hell, “Lasciate ogne Speranza voi
ch’intrate...Abandon all hope, Ye who enter here.” Coronary care would be intense; he needed to be ready for anything at any time. As his CCU attending,
Dr. Glenn Covington had said earlier during orientation, “Chest pain can come at all hours and with every complication you’ve studied.”
He punched the lumpy pillow and tried to get comfortable on the narrow
and flimsy hospital cot. Interns certainly deserved better than this excuse for a bed. Though he was only three and a half hours into his first official twelve- hour overnight shift, he’d clocked in an additional four hours at the beginning of the day. He had come early to walk through morning rounds, thinking it would give him a head start on figuring out how the unit worked for his 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. shift. When the intern assigned to the 8:00 a.m. shift, Diane Werner, had a last-minute childcare emergency that kept her from reporting before noon, Dan offered to stay. After bolting a burger and coffee in the cafeteria, he spent the rest of the day getting the ‘lay of the land’, as his pop would say, acquainting himself with the facility, the people who kept it functioning, and the technologies he’d be using.

Dan had met Diane months ago when they interviewed on the same day.
They’d maintained a friendly, professional email contact since then. As a
Deerwood, PA local and former Deerwood Community Hospital (DCH)
employee, she’d advised him on a number of decisions, including which
apartment complex to choose in his new town. A decade and a half older than the other new interns, she was a nurse here before deciding to attend medical school and become a physician.
My Thoughts

Marchetti's Inferno by Douglass Ratner, M.D. is a medical thriller at its best. Dr. Dan (Dante) Marchetti is an up-and-coming first-year intern that seems to have everything going for him, successful as a first-year intern, healing patients is his goal and he usually achieves that. But someone is not too happy that he is successful and decides to sabotage him.

When patients that are supposed to survive their ailments are suddenly dying with the last one being a rising star in baseball pitcher Trey Hartman. Suddenly Dan's life is turned upside down as he fights to get out of the mess he finds himself in legally, charged with multiple murders it is a daunting task. 

I enjoyed this book, I have always liked medical thrillers ever since I read my first Robin Cook book many years ago. The writer obviously knows what he writes. It is always helpful reading a book that is well-researched and the author writes from the heart. I liked the character Dan, even though I could see why the other doctors didn't like him. I think he was definitely humbled by the experience of being accused of something he did not do.

This story is definitely character driven. The reader is introduced to many other employees of the hospital and even a few from the district attorney's office, plus many of the patients. This book is a must for anyone interested in stories that are thriller/mystery/murder that take place in the medical field.

I give it 5 stars.

Thanks to Austin Macauley Publishers for the copy of the book that I received for my honest review.

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