Coronary by Stephen Klaidman

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 2 Critic Reviews



A chilling real-life medical thriller, Coronary chronicles the story of two highly respected heart doctors who violated the most sacred principle of their profession: First, do no harm.

In the summer of 2002, fifty-five-year-old John Corapi, a Catholic priest with a colorful background, visited Dr. Chae Hyun Moon, a celebrated cardiologist in Redding, California. Corapi had been suffering from exhaustion and shortness of breath, and although a physical examination and a conventional stress test revealed nothing abnormal, Moon insisted that the calcium level in Corapi's coronary arteries called for a highly invasive diagnostic test: an angiogram. A chain-smoking Korean immigrant known for his gruff bedside manner, Moon performed the procedure briskly and immediately handed down a devastating diagnosis: "I'm sorry; there is nothing I can do for you. You need a triple bypass tomorrow morning." He then abruptly left the room.

Several hours later, however, Moon inexplicably decided the surgery could wait until Corapi returned from a previously scheduled cross-country trip. Unnerved by the dire diagnosis and also by Moon's inconsistent statements, Corapi sought other opinions. To his amazement, a second, third, and fourth doctor found that his heart was perfectly healthy. In fact, for a man his age, Corapi's arteries were remarkably free of disease.

Sensing a cause more disturbing than human error, Corapi took his story to the FBI. As local agent Mike Skeen soon discovered, Corapi was one of a number of people who had suspicions about Moon and Moon's go-to cardiac surgeon, Dr. Fidel Realyvasquez, an equally respected member of the close-knit northern California community. Working at a hospital owned by Tenet Healthcare, Moon would make the diagnoses and Realyvasquez would perform the surgeries. Together, these leaders of the Redding medical establishment put hundreds of healthy people at risk, some of whom never recovered. Soon Skeen launched a major investigation, interviewing numerous doctors and patients, and forty federal agents raided the hospital where the doctors worked.

A timely and provocative dissection of America's medical-industrial complex, Coronary lays bare the financial structures that drive the American healthcare system, and which precipitated Moon's and Realyvasquez's actions. In a scheme that placed the demands of Wall Street above the lives of its patients, Tenet Healthcare rewarded doctors based on how much revenue they generated for the corporation.

A meticulous three-year FBI investigation and hundreds of civil suits culminated in no criminal charges but a series of settlements with Tenet Healthcare and the doctors that totaled more than $450 million and likely put an end to Moon's and Realyvasquez's medical careers. The case's every twist and turn is documented here.

A riveting, character-rich narrative and a masterpiece of long-form journalism, Coronary is as powerful as it is alarming. This is a hair-raising story of the hundreds of men and women who went under the knife, not in the name of medicine, but of profit and prestige. Brilliantly told, Stephen Klaidman's Coronary is a cautionary tale in the age of miracle medicine, and a shocking reminder to always get a second opinion.


About Stephen Klaidman

See more books from this Author
STEPHEN KLAIDMAN was an editor and reporter for twenty-three years at The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the International Herald Tribune. He has also taught widely at institutions such as Georgetown University's Law Center and its School of Foreign Service, Johns Hopkins University's School of Public Health, and Pennsylvania State University. For ten years he also worked at Georgetown University's Kennedy Institute of Ethics and Institute for Health Policy Analysis.

Author Residence: Bethesda, MD
Published January 9, 2007 by Scribner. 324 pages
Genres: History, Professional & Technical, Law & Philosophy, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Coronary

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

A dogged attempt to shed light on the troubling nexus between money and medicine through the story of two doctors in Redding, Calif., who generated enormous fees for themselves and for the Redding Medical Center by performing highly questionable procedures.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Coronary

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Father John Corapi, a former accountant, was urged in 2002 to have immediate triple bypass surgery at Redding Medical Center. In fact, his coronary arteries were normal, and he and a former colleag

Oct 09 2006 | Read Full Review of Coronary

Reader Rating for Coronary

An aggregated and normalized score based on 58 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review