Alumnus publishes third medical thriller: Fatal Complications

John Benedict (’82) may put people to sleep at his day job, but off-duty, the Penn State College of Medicine alumnus and central Pennsylvania anesthesiologist writes medical thrillers that may keep them up at night.

His first two self-published books, Adrenaline, and its sequel, The Edge of Death, were so successful that Benedict was able to work with Oceanview Publishing in Florida for publication and distribution of his third book, Fatal Complications, which was released in December.Fatal complications

Benedict’s books are available in the Penn State Health Milton S. Medical Center gift shop, with proceeds going back to the place he completed medical school, his internship, residency and cardiac anesthesia fellowship from 1978 to 1986.

Dr. John Benedict

Dr. John Benedict

Although he began writing in high school, starting a career and a family kept Benedict from pursuing his writing more until about 20 years ago. He was going through the standard anesthesia consent form with a patient who needed to have her appendix removed, and she got very upset about the list of risks and possible complications for the routine procedure. It sparked an idea for a novel.

“To me, it was not a big deal, but to her it meant there was a real chance that something could go wrong,” he said. “That really made an impression on me that we are asking people to put a lot of trust in someone they have never met before – they are usually just meeting you minutes before they are wheeled in for surgery.”

And so his books deal with what could happen if that trust isn’t justified.

“What if the guy is bad or evil and not just tired, overworked or incompetent?” he said. “That’s where the thriller part comes in.”

He said colleagues who read his books appreciate their medical authenticity.

“The operating room is a place that everyone knows exists, but not many people have firsthand experience with it,” he said. “It’s what I live, so I want to show people what it’s like.”

His first book, Adrenaline, became the top medical thriller in the Amazon Kindle store in October 2015 and has close to 500 reader reviews.

“There are lots of egos and good characters and drama in the operating room” he said. “I have enough ideas for the next 50 years.”

Benedict, who lives in East Hanover Township with his wife and three sons, usually does his writing at the College of Medicine library. Because he used to study there, it puts him in a good frame of mind for writing.

“On a Sunday morning, or if I have a day off, I’ll go spend a couple of hours there,” he said.

Now that he is getting some traction with his fiction, Benedict envisions writing even more once he retires.

“I write because I enjoy the process of doing it and if anything comes of that, great,” he said. “You shouldn’t write unless you like doing it.”

  • Jennifer Vogelsong

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