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Publish, Don’t Perish is a hilarious guffaw-out-loud medical satire written by two Stanford anesthesia professors, Dr. Jay Brodsky and Dr. John Brock-Utne. Not since The House of God have I read a book that spoofed the medical world in such accurate detail—absurd but almost believable.
The premise of the book relates to the truism than university medical faculty must “publish or perish.” Indeed the path of promotion to tenured professor status requires academic physicians to publish original clinical or laboratory research in reputable journals. Brodsky’s and Brock-Utnes’ book focuses on the new phenomenon of “predatory internet medical journals,” which will publish nearly anything if the author pays them a fee.
An example email a doctor will receive from one of these predatory internet journals would be a poorly worded offer such as: “Greetings. I hope you are well and trust you are doing splendidly. I’m Editorial Manager of The New American Journal of Medicine. We have seen your recent published articles and they seem to be very fascinating and it will be grateful if you accept to contribute a manuscript to our journal . We’ll accept anything. I really hope you won’t deny my mail and will surely submit a paper to the journal. We’ll publish it within two weeks.”
Publish, Don’t Perish presents fictional examples of medical studies that these new internet journals would be happy to publish. The parody examples from Publish, Don’t Perish include:
Study: Face Masks Can Alleviate Surgical Stress. Results:
Study: The Body Habitus of Miss America Contestants Have Shown an Ominous Decrease. “Since the iconic beauty pageant was established in the 1920s, the average BMI of the Miss America winner has now dropped to < 18 kg/m2. At the current rate of decline Miss America will have a BMI of Zero by the year 2300.”
Study: The Ideal PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for the Operating Room. “To minimize exposure in the COVID-19 crisis, . . . we have provided all our physicians and nurses with atmospheric diving suits.” See below:
Letter: Orthopedic Surgeon Presents Alternative to Tracheostomy for ICU Patient. “An orthopedic surgeon was called to perform a tracheostomy in a COVID-19 patient with respiratory failure, . . . but the surgeon was unfamiliar with that procedure and decided to proceed with the only surgical airway management operation he was comfortable with.”
News: All Ancient Women Were Obese. “In a stunning announcement by several prominent anthropologists, the scientific and medical communities were shocked to hear of a new insight into human history. ‘We believe, rather than being the exception, that all Neolithic women were obese, and in most instances they were morbidly obese. . . . At excavations of sites twenty thousand years old, just a few examples of our finds are shown below.’”
The conclusion of this stunning announcement is, “Contrary to current teaching, it is obvious that the female body is meant to be obese.”
New Nursing Journal Announced. “The American Nurses Association is proud to announce the publication of our newest nursing journal, called ‘Anecdotes, not Science, Involving Nurses In New Environments,’ or ASININE.”
Case Report: Alexa Wakes Patient Up From Surgery. “When the surgeon told me he had ten minutes left in the case, I asked Alexa to set an alarm for thirty minutes because as you know, it always takes them about three times as long to finish.”
Other laugh-out-loud faux examples include:
Study Finds That Having Sex Without a Condom May Lead to Pregnancy.
Hospital News: Hospital CEO Accidentally Visits Operating Rooms: Finds Visit Productive
Case Report: Every Hospital Service Consulted on One Patient.
120-Year-Old Doctor Called Out of Retirement to Fight COVID-19. “As a young physician Dr. Tuttle sherperded Washington state through the devastating 1918 Spanish Flu influenza epidemic, and Dr. Fauci is listening to his recommendations.”
News: Anesthesia Blamed for Everything.
Nurse Earns Final Degree: Now Has the Entire Alphabet Behind His Name. “Richard R. Whitaker has recently completed his advanced degree in zoophobia, and thus became the first nurse to have every single letter of the alphabet listed behind his name.” example: Richard Whitaker, RN, PhD, CNP, CNM, ADP, AARP, . . . ZD.
Doctors Brodsky and Brock-Utne are distinguished experts in genuine medical writing. Between them they have published over 500 articles in the peer-reviewed medical literature. Publish, Don’t Perish, an 8 X 10- inch paperback, 80 pages long, is their first full-length book of satire. In a parallel universe both authors could have made a solid living as Saturday Night Live comedy writers, or perhaps they could have penned an R-rated comedy movie or two.
Five stars. This reviewer recommends you order a copy from Amazon right now. Make sure to order a gift copy or two for your orthopedic surgeon, hospital CEO, or favorite nurse as well.