Author Stories Podcast Episode 756 | Samuel Shem Shakes Up The Medical Industry Again

Today’s author interview guest is Samuel Shem, author of The House Of God and the brand new sequel Man’s 4th Best Hospital.

“If you want to know why the doctor spends all visit looking at a computer instead of you, and if you want to know how the doctor feels about it, this is the book for you: a mordantly funny tour through modern medicine with a powerful prescription for how to change.”

—Bill McKibben, bestselling author of The End of Nature and Radio Free Vermont

A retired doctor, Samuel Shem rejoined the medical community five years ago at NYU, where he was tapped as a Professor of Medicine to teach his seminal novel. Suddenly in the thick of modern medicine, he saw wonderful new advancements, but he also saw two new and horrific developments dominating health care: money and screens. Propelled by what he saw, he has brought back his unforgettable characters, including the Fat Man and Dr. Roy Basch, in follow-up novel MAN’S 4TH BEST HOSPITAL.

In MAN’S 4TH BEST HOSPITAL, The Fat Man, now rich and famous, has been lured to the House of God’s WASPy rival. Man’s Best Hospital—now suddenly ranked 4th best!—wants Fats to raise the hospital’s stature once again. But the Fat Man has a secret agenda: to start a clinic—leaning up against the giant hospital—that will put the “human back into healthcare.” For help he calls on his old crew, now older and wiser: Dr. Roy Basch, Hyper-Hooper, Eat My Dust Eddie, and more.

When Shem first wrote The House of God, electronic medical records did not exist. With each patient visit, doctors confront an endless round of boxes to click–designed to monetize patient care rather than store the information doctors really need. For each hour spent with a patient, doctors spend 2 hours with a screen. The result, Shem says, is the loss of the human factor in healing, causing great suffering in doctors and patients alike.

A darkly funny and eye-opening satire, MAN’S 4TH BEST HOSPITAL exposes the truths about how money, screens, and patient care have become inextricably tied. A resonant novel that will change the way you approach doctor’s visits, MAN’S 4TH BEST HOSPITAL lets patients in on what’s really happening in medicine, and how to change it.

About the Author

Samuel Shem is a novelist, playwright, and, for three decades, a member of the Harvard Medical School faculty. His novels include The House of God, Mount Misery, and Fine. He is coauthor with his wife, Janet Surrey, of the hit Off-Broadway play Bill W. and Dr. Bob, the story of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous (winner of the 2007 Performing Arts Award of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence), and We Have to Talk: Healing Dialogues Between Men and Women.

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