Nobody talks about it, but it happens all the time. Twelve percent of medical doctors admit to having had at least one affair with a patient.
Until the night of her first asthma attack, Heather Morrison is a successful New York City executive in the process of adopting a daughter from China. On the first night in her newly-purchased condo on the Upper West Side, she awakens in a panic, fighting for breath.
Moments later, her panic-stricken eyes meet those of Dr. Jeffrey Davis, a pulmonary specialist. Jeff gets Heather’s breathing under control, but their mutual attraction is undeniable. Despite the fact that he is married, Jeff Davis soon steps beyond the bounds of ethically correct behavior to pursue Heather, resulting in a late-night tryst in his office that escalates quickly into a passionate but dangerous affair.
Despite her increasing discomfort with the situation, Heather rationalizes her relationship with Jeff, hoping for a happy ending she knows deep down won’t occur. Six months into it, Jeff’s wife discovers his involvement with Heather, driving him to abruptly break off the affair, but not before Heather begins, with the help of friends, to understand the ethical and legal impropriety and seriousness of what has transpired. Emotionally overwrought and fragile after the breakup, Heather also struggles with an addiction to several medications Jeff prescribed while she was under his care.
With initial misgivings, she begins the process of bringing Jeff to justice, discovering to her horror after initiating legal action that by doing so, she has jeopardized her chances of adopting the daughter she has dreamed of adopting for so long. Heather’s life comes crashing down around her as she sinks into the depths of humiliation and despair, only to find the strength within her, through the help of friends and compassionate professionals, to fight her way back into life, and to bring the doctor to justice.
A MEDICAL AFFAIR is a story that must be told.
“A Medical Affair is more than compelling fiction. It also is a powerful narrative about how relationships between physicians and patients can evolve in unethical, even unlawful ways. And as a medical ethicist and educator, I was delighted to see Strauss deftly weave important information about sexual misconduct by physicians into her story line.”
Professor of law, medicine and ethics at Indiana University. Oversaw drafting of American Medical Association’s ethical guidelines on intimate relationships between physicians and their patients
“When Heather Morrison begins an affair with her physician, she is flattered at being the object of his attention and love. Unaware that her lover is breaking the Medical Code of Ethics that dates back to Hippocrates and can lose his license to practice medicine, she soon finds herself entangled in a flood of emotions uncommon in previous relationships. Although a work of fiction, A MEDICAL AFFAIR is a story that all too often is mirrored in real life as hundreds of women find themselves in Heather’s position. It is a story that must be told.”
Anne D. LeClaire
Author of ENTERING NORMAL and LISTENING BELOW THE NOISE
“Anne McCarthy Strauss’s A MEDICAL AFFAIR is an engrossing, cautionary tale that will grab readers from the very start. Protagonist Heather Morrison’s victimization by her doctor should serve as a warning to all vulnerable patients. This novel is a quick-paced read on a serious topic.”
Nicole Bokat, Author of REDEEMING EVE and WHAT MATTERS MOST
“As a medical professional for over 25 years, I have seen the problem of inappropriate doctor/patient relationships many times. It happens so frequently and yet it’s seldom talked about beyond office gossip. A MEDICAL AFFAIR is the first novel to explain to the reader that when he or she is approached by their personal physician as a lover, they are not being flattered, they are being victimized. Medical professionals know this, and Anne McCarthy Strauss is the first novelist to reveal the truth to those who have no inclination that they are being abused.”
Lorraine Austin RN, MPA
Lis Carey’s Library
Booktrope Publishing, ISBN 9781620151747, September 2013
Heather Morrison is in her thirties, single, successful professionally, and wants to be a mother. With a series of failed relationships behind her, she’s not interested in including a man in the picture. Instead, she applies, and is approved, to adopt a little girl from China. As part of her plan, she buys a condo large enough for her new little family.
Unfortunately, painting the rooms triggers an asthma attack, her first ever, and she winds up in the emergency room at Lenox Hill Hospital, looking up into the eyes of handsome pulmonologist Dr. Jeff Davis. He’s charming as well as handsome, and Heather briefly entertains a few daydreams before learning that he is also married. Since this is her first asthma attack, he gives her prescriptions for maintenance and rescue medications, has her make an appointment to see him at his office in two weeks, and at some point gives her his personal cell number.
Over the next several weeks, he lures her into a more personal relationship, first coffee at a bookstore, then dinner… Heather feels a little uncomfortable dating a married man, something she’s never done before. Only Jeff knows it’s also a major violation of professional ethics, and potentially a violation of the law.
Strauss does a wonderful job portraying both Heather’s personal strength, and her vulnerability to the charming but predatory doctor. Almost more impressively, she makes Jeff Davis not a cardboard villain but a real human being with moral flaws that make him dangerous.
As Heather is drawn deeper into her relationship with Jeff, he continues to treat her for her asthma–and an expanding list of other issues for which she did not previously think she needed medication. Her life starts spinning out of control–missed deadlines and mistakes at work, missed lunches and outings with her two best friends, more stress in her already stressed relationship with her mother.
This is a moving story dealing with a problem too many patients are vulnerable to. Highly recommended.
My first thought when I read the synopsis is, wow, does this really happen? And then I think about society and the people in it and then I realize, of course it does and it probably happens often. There are some doctors that have a “god” complex and think they can do no wrong. That would be the main character Dr. Jeffrey (Jeff) Davis. He is tending to Heather when she is brought into the ER for a severe asthma attack. He notes that she is rather attractive and his type, but he tries not to act on anything. That changes when Heather makes a follow up appointment for his office. I’m sure he thought, why not? Now don’t think that Heather is totally innocent in this whole matter, most normal people would realize that you don’t meet your doctor for coffee or lunch and you don’t let your doctor try and treat you for things that are not within their specialty!
I had mixed feelings about the characters while I was reading the novel. I wasn’t wild about Jeff because he is a typical philanderer and I don’t like people that can’t be faithful to their spouse. Heather was caught up in a moment, but then couldn’t figure out how to get out of the situation and I’m not sure she wanted out until it was a bit too late. I felt pity for her but then at times I just wanted to throttle her and ask her what she was thinking! I think her friends wanted to do the same thing!
This type of story can never end well. There are winners and losers and those that win also lose something and this is no different. A gripping read and we gave it 4 paws.
Anne McCarthy Strauss is a versatile writer, researcher and public relations professional. She is also an avid supporter of victims’ rights. She has spent the last decade educating women and men on the seldom revealed but all too frequent occurrence of affairs between doctors and their patients. Her novel, A Medical Affair, is the story of a doctor who violates a sacred trust by having an affair with one of his patients.
A lifelong New Yorker, Anne lives on Long Island with her husband and their two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. The mother of one son, she has written for both consumer and trade magazines including Old House Journal, Waterfront Home & Design, Design Trade Magazine, Design New England, Distinction, Log Home Design Ideas and Florida Design Review. She has been a regular contributor to Martha’s Vineyard Magazine and Vineyard Style. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA).