The Jaded Caduceus: A Trauma Surgeon’s Experience with AIDS
by Michael S. Hickey, M.D. F.A.C.S.

"'They literally have no clue that they’re HIV positive. And that’s why AIDS is so terrifying and difficult to control.'"

Dr. Jason Stone, a skilled trauma surgeon at the City Hospital, has his entire life put at risk when the unthinkable occurs. While trying to save the life of an HIV-positive young man with a gunshot wound, his surgical resident accidentally slices Stone’s palm open with his scalpel. At this point in the 1980s, the disease is little understood and thought by many to be nothing more than a death sentence. After six weeks, Stone is confirmed to have contracted HIV, and the waves from this event lay waste to his marriage, his career, and the life that he has created for himself to this point. Struggling to find support from peers and a healthcare system that is eager to blackball him due to his condition, Stone must look within to find the strength to persevere against a deadly disease.

As a retired trauma surgeon himself, the author’s experience both in the emergency room and through lecturing on issues related to HIV gives a level of confident detail that adds gravity and realism to the narrative. Stone’s situation is one that he can’t control, and that the story starts out while he is already established gives his character so much farther to fall. This choice is a smart one, as the author can get straight to the meat of the story, and readers are thrust immediately into the fast-paced world of the ER. In a story that spans just over a year, every chapter offers a new dilemma or crisis that must be met and keeps the story moving along briskly. Tragic and true to life of the era, this emotional and difficult ride is one that pays off for readers with its strong cast of characters and an unexpected ending.

Return to USR Home