Meet ‘The Good Doctor’s Secret Weapon: Lead Medical Consultant Dr. Gottfried

Doctor Oren Gottfried on September 3, 2014.Shawn Rocco/Duke Medicine
Shawn Rocco/Duke Medicine

Yes, Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) and his fellow physicians on The Good Doctor are at the top of their game.

And offscreen, the actors and writers have a great coach to help their characters stay that way. Dr. Oren Gottfried, the drama’s lead medical consultant, tries to ensure that the cases handled at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital are as legitimate as they are dramatic.

“I present all areas of medicine,” says the professor of neurosurgery at Duke University, who both weighs in on the validity of the writers’ ideas and makes his own plotline pitches. “It’s rarely stories from my daily work,” he adds, although Gottfried does pull some concepts from a journal of “cool, interesting cases” he’s encountered over his career (which has also included advising on Royal Pains and Chicago Med).

For non-neurological plots, Gottfried, who calls in to the writers room and presents upwards of 20 cases per session, relies on a network of specialists who share with him their wildest tales of obscure symptoms and shocking cures.

“Some [cases] do seem so outlandish, but the fact is they’re really medical truth,” he asserts. So don’t go rolling your eyes during the October 14 episode, when Dr. Claire Browne (Antonia Thomas) has to treat a patient who claims she can’t feel pain. This is a real condition that comes with its own set of surgical issues.

Plus, Gottfried knows there are armchair experts out there paying close attention to plot details — in fact, he’s raising some of them! “It’s a pretty big deal when my kids watch a show and they realize the medicine’s not accurate,” he says.

(Jeff Weddell/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

Better start saving for medical school!

The Good Doctor, Mondays, 10/9c, ABC