Rick Novak, MD at work in the operating room

Rick Novak, MD at work in the operating room

  1. Is it legal to give medical care or anesthetic care to your family? Is it ethical?  Answer: It’s legal to provide medical care for your family member, as when Dr. Nico Antone gives his wife an anesthetic in The Doctor and Mr. Dylan. The American Medical Association Code of Medical Ethics states, Physicians generally should not treat themselves or members of their immediate families. Professional objectivity may be compromised when an immediate family own family, but member or the physician is the patient; the physician’s personal feelings may unduly influence his or her professional medical judgment, thereby interfering with the care being delivered.” Note that the Code of Ethics says, “should not” rather than “must not.” I’ve seen surgeons operate on their wives, daughters, and sons, and I’ve witnessed anesthesiologists giving anesthetics to their own children. Their motivation is often pride as in, “There is no better ear, nose, and throat surgeon in the world to take care of my son,” or economical as in, “Why should I pay a colleague to do something I do every day?” Problems with supplying medical care to your family include: 1) the possibility of panic getting in the way of objective decision-making if there is a complication, and 2) the specter of guilt gnawing at you afterward if there is a bad outcome. It’s not unethical to care for your it’s usually inadvisable.


  1. Nico Antone states, “Muslims make pilgrimages to Mecca. Dylan fans make pilgrimages to Hibbing.” Is the Hibbing as described in The Doctor and Mr. Dylan for real? Is Robert Zimmerman’s/Bob Dylan’s house still standing? Does Bob Dylan Drive exist? Is Hibbing High School as grand as described? What about Hibbing General Hospital, and Heaven’s Door? Answers: Dylan fans frequently make pilgrimages to Hibbing, and the town is very much as described in the novel. Robert Zimmerman’s house still stands largely unchanged from the 1950’s at the corner of 25th Street and Bob Dylan Drive. Hibbing High School is located two blocks away, and the high school is indeed a majestic architectural wonderarguably the finest high school building in the United States. Google the pictures and facts on Hibbing High School and you’ll agree. The original downtown Hibbing General Hospital depicted in The Doctor and Mr. Dylan was torn down over twenty years ago. The current hospital for Hibbing is Fairview Range Medical Center on the outskirts of town. There is no Heaven’s Door in Hibbing. A Dylan-themed restaurant and bar called Zimmy’s closed in 2014. If you’re travelin’ in the North Country fair, make the journey to check out Hibbing. You won’t regret visiting this charming villiage, although I’d suggest you wait until winter is over!


  1. Does Dylan’s Highway 61 still exist? Answer: The original United States Highway 61 runs 1,400 miles from New Orleans, Louisiana, to the city of Wyoming in southern Minnesota. The highway follows the course of the Mississippi River, and is designated the Great River Road. Between Wyoming and Duluth, Interstate 35 replaced Highway 61. The northernmost reach of Highway 61, as described in the book, is a beautiful drive from Duluth north to Canada along the shore of Lake Superior, and has been known as Minnesota State Highway 61 since 1991.


  1. Is it true that in Minnesota nurse anesthetists can work alone without an M.D. anesthesiologist to supervise them? Answer: Yes. As described in The Doctor and Mr. Dylan, Minnesota is a state where the governor decided to allow independent practice of anesthesia by nurse anesthetists. To date seventeen states have legalized the independent practice of anesthesia by nurse anesthetists. The majority of these states have extensive rural areas traditionally underserved by M.D. anesthesiologists. Governors for these states believed the independent practice of anesthesia by nurse anesthetists would improve access to surgical care in rural areas. The American Society of Anesthesiologists believes anesthesia is the practice of medicine, and medical care by unsupervised nurse anesthetists is a mistake.


  1. Is the sport of curling a big deal in Hibbing? Answer: Yes, very much so. The Hibbing Curling Club is attached to the Hibbing Memorial Building, the town’s main hockey arena. Curling is inexpensive, fun, and accessible to anyone with interest. Hibbing curlers have won multiple national championships and two world curling championships. Each April Hibbing hosts the largest curling tournament in the United States, the Last Chance Bonspiel, which runs 24-hours a day over four days on 14 sheets of ice under one roof at the Memorial Building.


  1. Is it possible for an anesthetist to cause a patient’s death? Answer: Yes. Anesthesia has never been safer than it is in the 21st century, nonetheless if an anesthetist makes a serious error a patient can suffer brain death or a cardiac arrest within minutes. I’m a frequent expert witness consultant for anesthesia medical-legal lawsuits, and many of these cases involve dead patients or comatose brain-dead patients.


  1. Have an anesthetist ever been charged with murder?  Answer: Yes, at least once. An anesthetist was charged with the first-degree murder of patient Sandra Joyner following a 2001 mini-facelift surgery. The murder was allegedly committed by an injection of the potent narcotic fentanyl. A detective testified that two people, the plastic surgeon and a technician, recalled hearing the female anesthetist say that patient Sandra Joyner stole her high school boyfriend. The charges were eventually dropped, and the anesthetist was not convicted.


  1. What’s the significance of the date September 9thAnswer: In the novel Alexandra Antone’s fateful anesthetic and murder occurred on September 9th. The Doctor and Mr. Dylan was published years later on September 9th, to mark the significance of that same date.


Click on the image below to reach the Amazon link to The Doctor and Mr. Dylan:




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