As chief of cardiology for Main Line Health, Dr. Peter Kowey is an internationally known, published expert in heart rhythm disorders. And with the release of Lethal Rhythm last fall, the Bryn Mawr resident can now add “fiction writer” to the long list of accomplishments from his 30-year career. A mystery co-written by Marion L. Fox about a cardiologist who’s sued for medical malpractice, Lethal Rhythm is meant to be more than just entertainment. Kowey wants people to understand the toll that medical malpractice can exact on physicians and their patients.
MLT: Why write a novel?
PK: I went to St. Joseph’s University as an undergraduate, and I was really into the liberal arts thing before I went to medical school. I loved creative writing. It’s been an itch that I’ve wanted to scratch for a long time, and I finally got around to it.
MLT: What about the storyline?
PK: I occasionally defend physicians in malpractice cases, and I’ve been watching their devastation for a long time. The public has no idea what it’s like. I was sitting in a courtroom as an expert witness watching a doctor get raked over the coals, and I was motivated to start writing a story about a doctor who gets ruined in a malpractice case.
MLT: What do you enjoy most about writing fiction?
PK: It’s so wonderfully creative; there’s so much description that needs to go into it. And I really enjoyed explaining a lot of the medical stuff to the reader.
MLT: What’s been the reaction from your colleagues?
PK: There usually is a great deal of surprise that I found the time to write the book. It’s brought out a tremendous amount of emotion among the physicians I’ve talked to. It’s almost a catharsis that somebody has actually advocated for them and told a story that they’ve been dealing with for a long time. This is really a big problem.
MLT: What’s the most important thing you’d like the reader to take away from Lethal Rhythm?
PK: I think the most important principle here is that doctors who take care of patients have a really tough job. The vast majority is really trying to do the right thing. If something bad happens, it’s not necessarily because the doctor was negligent or careless. We need to protect physicians and patients from the ravages of overzealous prosecution.
MLT: Will you write a sequel?
PK: Yes. I’m editing the first draft of it now. Hopefully, there’s going to be a whole series.
MLT: Are a lot of your patients reading the book?
PK: Absolutely. They come in with comments, and they want to have it signed. It’s been a blast. I’ve met so many interesting people throughout this process.