Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | July 14, 2021

Good Doctor Helps Pen TV Episode

Surgeon Oren Gottfried is a medical consultant for the writers on the ABC show “The Good Doctor” and recently helped write an episode. In this episode, his hands can be seen demonstrating a spinal procedure on the screen in the background. ​

In 2010 Oren Gottfried, MD, FAANS, FACS, Duke Health neurosurgeon and spine surgeon, received a call from a television writer that wanted help addressing the medical aspects of a script. This opportunity eventually led to Gottfried becoming a medical consultant on a number of shows. ​

“After a while, I started pitching story ideas to the writers,” said Gottfried. “Naturally, when I was pitching ideas and then they were used as part of an episode, it made me want to take in the whole process. I wanted to help write an episode.”

Gottfried started working on “The Good Doctor” at the end of the show’s first season as a medical consultant for the writers. Recently his wish of writing an episode came true when an episode he wrote with two other writers called “Waiting” aired on April 26, 2021. The episode centers around the physicians treating two boys shot at a political protest while their moms in the waiting room are on opposite sides of the issue.

When asked how he came up with the idea, Gottfried said, “It was a group effort with the writers but right now,​ no matter what news network you turn on, there are people on opposing sides of issues. However, the common denominator is that we are all human and we care about our families. A bad experience is bad no matter what side of an issue you’re on. Two people can be more similar than different.”

The injuries the characters suffered, their treatments and the story were created throug​h Gottfried’s and the other two writers’ imagination, not through any actual patient encounters.

“I draw from my knowledge of medicine and the emotional struggle of how we relate to one another,” said Gottfried. “I never draw from my real-life experiences with patients.”

Gottfried liked writing for the show, but don’t expect him to hang up his white coat anytime soon.

“I enjoyed the collaboration and process of writing this episode,” said Gottfried. “I got to work with two executive producers who are leaders in their field and I appreciate them allowing me to jump in and learn how it all works, but patient care and improving the lives of my patients is still my passion.”​

–By Mary Kate Llamas

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