Thursday, August 12, 2010

Q&A with David Berger, MD


In episode seven of "Boston Med," David Berger, MD, a colorectal and gastrointestinal surgeon and director of the MGH Colorectal Surgery Center, performs surgery on patient Tom Alden, who has colon cancer.

Where did you watch episode seven? What did you think of it? I watched episode seven at home. I was with my wife and a couple of friends. I think they were all very impressed with MGH, and I thought that ABC was very kind to me. How long have you been at the MGH? I started my residency in 1990. Did you always want to be a surgeon? I didn't really know that was what I wanted until I did a surgical rotation in medical school. I think that the ability to have a problem and perform a physical task to attempt to fix it was something that appealed to me.

What's the most challenging part of your job, and what's the most rewarding part? The most difficult part is the complications -- dealing with the fact that a person you've operated on may be having a tough time. The most rewarding part is that every once in a while I get a very honest "thank you," not just a perfunctory one.

In the episode, you mention how tough it is to give bad news to patients. Can you go into more detail about that?

I think that it's part of the job -- it's part of what we do, and we have to do it -- but it's something that nobody wants to tell people.

If Tom had had a colonoscopy earlier, would it have changed his outcome? I think that everyone benefits from getting a colonoscopy at the recommended time. It may not prevent everyone from getting colon cancer, but it sure is something that will reduce the mortality from colon cancer, because we'll pick them up earlier. What do you think about "Boston Med" overall? I think "Boston Med" has helped give people an idea of what really happens inside a hospital. It helps explain what we do as institution and what our role is in the community -- and I think that's a good thing.

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