Saturday, August 21, 2010

Review: Code 15

Code 15 by Gary Birken

(For review from Goldberg McDuffie)


In the tradition of the novels of Patricia Cornwell and Robin Cook, pediatric surgeon Dr. Gary Birken's medical thrillers shed light on timely medical issues as they entertain readers with their gripping plots and engrossing characters.

In the novel Code 15, Dr. Morgan Connolly is the Chief of Emergency Medicine at Dade Presbyterian Hospital. She calls the shots and makes the tough decisions about her patients' care and safety. So when two brothers, Jason and Andy Kaine, die under her care as a result of advanced cases of meningitis, and their father, Mason Kaine, threatens the hospital and Morgan specifically, she is devastated but determined to continue to do her good work.

Months later, Morgan's beloved father is inexplicably murdered, and a seemingly unconnected string of deaths by Code 15's, or preventable medical errors, occur throughout the hospital. Grieving, pregnant and estranged from her gambling husband, Morgan seems to have lost her grip, and her supervisors are convinced she needs time off to deal with her personal issues. But Morgan is convinced that the Code 15's were not accidental; that someone is out to get her and is planning these medical errors to ruin her career and take the hospital down with her. What ensues is a riveting game of cat and mouse as Morgan seeks to identify the madman behind the plot, save her reputation, and prove her case - putting herself, her unborn child, and those closest to her in grave danger.


If you like medical thrillers this one should be right up your alley! Dr. Gary Birken uses his experience as a pediatric surgeon to add credibility and authenticity to this novel. The descriptions of the hospital and it's workings are very believable. Birken takes a page right out of the headlines with this novel. The problem of patient safety should be foremost in the minds of the administrators in most hospitals, unfortunately in today's world, national issues with healthcare reform and insurance concerns have taken precedent. Birken's novel Code 15 takes us back to the right priorities; making sure patients are cared for in the best possible way.

According to Florida law, a Code 15, requires hospitals to report serious medical errors within 15 days of occurrence. Birken's book centers around a series of Code 15 errors that occur at Dade Presbyterian Hospital, where Chief of Emergency, Morgan Connolly is responsible for the safety of her patients.

Morgan is a spunky character that has a lot to deal with in this book. She separated from her husband, she's expecting a baby, her father has been brutally murdered and now her reputation as well as that of the hospital is in jeopardy. She doesn't really have anyone to rely on other than herself and her own instincts. Now, that's a strong woman! I love female characters that are able to stand up under distressing circumstances and Morgan certainly fits that description.

This book puts me in the mind of medical thrillers from Robin Cook, who I consider one of the best in this genre. It's very riveting and the ending is a real shocker. You'll be on the edge of your seat and you'll be stunned, you might even have to go back and read that last part again it's soooo good! LOL...

Code 15 is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

This one gets 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Here is additional information about the author, in his own words from

Before I first set pen to paper as a novel writer, I was a fulltime pediatric surgeon. Nine years and five novels later, I am still a busy pediatric surgeon. The question I'm asked most often is; how do you find time to do both? The simplest answer is that when you spend every waking hour pursuing your life's passions, you can always find time. Practically speaking, I try to arrange my surgical schedule to leave some time for writing. But even with the best intentions and planning, it's not always possible to write every day. It's the price one pays for having a day job. Fortunately, vacations and weekends off offer a wonderful opportunity to write. When I'm not in the operating room or writing, I utilize whatever time remains to play tennis and basketball. I also hold a black belt in martial arts and try to spend as much time as I can in the dojo.

I was born and raised in New York. After completing my undergraduate studies in Ohio, I was fortunate enough to spend two years studying in Paris. The opportunity to absorb another country's language and culture is one that I will always cherish and one that I have encouraged my own children to pursue. All of my training in general and pediatric surgery took place in Columbus, Ohio at the Ohio State University Hospital and Columbus Children's. Upon completion of my fellowship in pediatric surgery, I moved to Hollywood, Florida where I have spent my entire professional career. Presently, I serve as the Surgeon-in-Chief of the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. I am also the immediate Past Chairman of the Children's Hospital Charitable Foundation and the Director of Pediatric Trauma Center.

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