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Health & Parenting

Q&A With Royal Pains' Mark Feuerstein

The actor talks about his TV doctor role, the real doctors who saved his daughter's life, and his parenting philosophy.
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By Andrea Gabrick
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Mark Feuerstein got his start in acting when he played a recurring character in the daytime soap Loving. Now the star of Royal Pains,a medical drama set in the Hamptons, he also starred in the 2000 flick What Women Want, as well as Practical Magic and several TV series. In a far-ranging interview with WebMDthe Magazine, Feuerstein talked about his show, his native city, his family, his best and worst health habits,and the two foods he hates the most.

On Royal Pains, which kicked off its new season June 29 on the USA Network, you play Dr. Hank Lawson with a boutique practice in the Hamptons. And you film on location. Tough gig! But you grew up in New York. Was it a homecoming for you?

Royal Pains has been a huge homecoming for me. And by that I mean, I've literally come to the home I grew up in. I sleep in the crash pad next door to my parents. My mother invites me in for a salad after a long day of shooting, and my father wakes me up every morning to see how I want my eggs.

You're not a doctor, but you play one on TV. How did you prepare for this role?

We have an amazing emergency doctor on set, Dr. Irving Danesh, who not only supervises, with vigilance, the medical accuracy of the show, but who actually comes up with all of the unique, creative, completely credible yet insane medical scenarios that my character has to address. For research for the role, I met with Dr. Keith Black, head of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and was lucky enough to be invited to watch the removal of a brain tumor. To stand over a man's head and watch as a doctor fiddles around in the epicenter of who that man is -- his brain, his emotions, his motor skills -- it's beyond cool.

What's your favorite mystery ailment you've solved on the show to date?

I've relieved the pressure in a man's brain by drilling with a 1.5 inch drill bit into his head, I've performed a tracheotomy on a dog and, in a wine cellar, I've saved a woman from drowning by securing her neck and spine to a surfboard with a life-jacket. I've also created a Bair Hugger [a device used to warm patients in a trauma situation] out of what I could find in a restaurant kitchen (hair dryer, blanket, napkins). And what's most insane about these situations is that they've all really happened, and the protocols have been performed by emergency doctors in the field.

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