A woman is mighty mad at her doctor because he used her as the subject of his book, THE ADDICT: One Patient, One Doctor, One Year, published in 2009 by William Morrow, without her knowledge or, obviously, her permission.
In reading the article, two glaring thoughts bump around in the cavern that poses as my brain:
- Why did he do this?
- Where was William Morrow’s editor in all this?
As one who specializes in nonfiction, I am achingly considerate of a couple things:
- Content. Is it real (hello, Greg Mortenson and James Frey)? If I can’t get satisfactory verification, then I walk away. Who needs the aggravation and possible lawsuits?
- Permission. If someone comes to me with a biography or a story that involves someone other than the author, I need to see proof of permission. Again, who needs the aggravation and possible lawsuits?
I’m surprised the editor went to submission committee without having those permissions in place. And who knows? Perhaps the good doctor did provide “permission” and the editor didn’t follow through by contacting the subject of the book. I took note that William Morrow isn’t included in the lawsuit, so I dearly hope the editor covered her asterisk.
However, this lawsuit could adversely affect sales, which would make William Morrow, and the doc’s editor, ready to mainline cheap gin. I know I would. To be honest, this sort of thing really takes the jam out of my jelly doughnut because dishonesty is so destructive. The fact that this doctor would break the HIPAA Privacy Rule is beyond stupid, and could end up costing him his medical license, or at the very least, a healthy fine and swift kick in his dangling participles.
But this goes to an even deeper level, and that’s the fervent desire to be published. I use the analogy of crossing the street. Back in the Early Jurassic Era, when I was a wee bairn, I was standing on the corner with my sister – who is infinitely wiser and nine years my senior. I saw something across the street…a candy store…and made ready to dart out like a heat-seeking missile.
My sister grabbed my hand. “What? Are you barking mad? That truck almost smacked you!” She was right. Barreling down the boulevard was a huge garbage truck. I reflected upon the ignominy of meeting The Great Cosmic Muffin at his Pearly Gates and telling him I’d been wiped out by a garbage truck, of all things. Surely, some better demise awaited me…and when I was old and feeble.
My fervent desire for a sugar fix put blinders over my eyes, to where my sister had to save my sorry ass. So who is the one who saves your hide in your never-ending dream to cross the street to Published Land? Are you willing to be smacked upside the head by garbage trucks, or are you more careful about your safety and wait for the Crossing sign to light up?
This doc/author facing a lawsuit (and probably a “go stand in the corner” edict from his editor) didn’t have anyone holding his hand, telling him to wait until it was safe to cross the street, and he was like my six-year-old self who couldn’t wait, or didn’t care, to do things the right way.
Make sure you take better care!