I have not seen Dr. G: Medical Examiner because we do not get Discovery Health in our cable television package, but it sounds like an interesting program. Autopsies are always attention getting in drama series. Reenactments by a real medical examiner must be riveting. Jan Garavaglia describes some of what she does on the show in How Not to Die: Surprising Lessons on Living Longer, Safer, and Healthier from America's Favorite Medical Examiner. Mostly, however, she tells stories with a recurring theme - the dead who landed in her morgue often did not have to die prematurely. Sensible living and a little care could have saved many of them. Of course, many people will never live sensibly - especially men. She has an entire chapter devoted to how men die younger due to a combination of genes, hormones, and stupidity.
Every chapter starts with a mysterious death that Garavaglia needs to solve so the police will know if there is a crime and/or the family (if there is one) can understand why their loved one died. After the story, the medical examiner puts the story into a cultural context and tells why the death was preventable.
The message strikes home with me. As I grew up in a small West Texas town, there were frequent deaths from road and oil field accidents. I graduated small high school in a class of 56. Of those 56, five men had died by their mid-40s: one auto accident with speed and alcohol involved, two deaths from AIDS, one from a rare leukemia, and one from an epileptic seizure. Garavaglia would score at least three of those as preventable.
Garavagia's book is somewhat like the driver's ed films that show bloody automobile crashes, but it is more entertaining. It does have some shock value, as she describes handling the decaying tissues of people who lived miserable lives. Perhaps that is what is needed. I think maybe I'll get that medical exam I've been putting off.
Garavaglia, Jan. How Not to Die: Surprising Lessons on Living Longer, Safer, and Healthier from America's Favorite Medical Examiner. Crown Publishers, 2008.