Medicine: The Strange Case of J. H. Phillips

Everybody liked hard, stocky, fiery-eyed Dr. Phillips, the new assistant chief surgeon at Enloe Hospital in Chico, Calif.

Fellow physicians watched admiringly as he sliced out tonsils, neatly opened countless abdomens, knowingly probed the visceral coils for appendices and other disorders. Patients flocked to him. Dr. Phillips, they told their friends, "had a dynamic personality," a reassuring air of competence.

Surgeon Phillips had been no less popular at the California CCC camp where he practiced before moving to Chico. The boys called him "the operating fool."

Often he removed tonsils without anesthetics.

One day last May Special Agent Joseph Williams of the California State Board...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!