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Down the Rabbit Hole
by Sherry Gorman MD (pen name Kate O'Reilley)
|It's Nothing Personal|
Amazon.com: Paperback | Kindle Edition
“I’m standing here in front of Rose Medical Center in Denver, Colorado. News X has just learned that Kristen Parker, a surgical scrub technician previously employed by Rose, may have exposed numerous patients to hepatitis C. According to police and health officials, Parker has admitted to stealing syringes of fentanyl, a powerful intravenous narcotic. The syringes were intended for use on patients. According to allegations, Parker injected herself with the drug, refilled the dirty syringes with saline, and returned them before the theft was detected, knowing they would be used on patients. Parker is hepatitis C positive, and her crimes have placed an unknown number of patients at risk.
“Hospital officials have set up a 24-hour hepatitis hotline, and will be offering free, confidential hepatitis testing to any patient who underwent a surgical procedure at the hospital during the time period when Parker was employed.”
In a panic, you race to the hospital to be tested. Agonizing days pass while you wait for the results. On a sunny afternoon in mid-summer, your phone rings. It’s a hepatitis specialist from Rose calling to tell you that you tested positive. Your life has just changed forever.
***Now imagine being one of the anesthesiologists who worked at Rose. You listen to the same news report as the patient. Your jaw drops in shock and repulsion. Days and weeks pass. The reality of impending litigation starts to sink in. Thinking back, did you do anything to make yourself vulnerable? Can you remember working with Kristen Parker? Will you be lucky and remain unscathed?
Months later, you receive a letter. You are informed that one of your patients has tested positive, and you are being sued for medical malpractice. Just like the patient, your life changes forever.
You’re the patient again. In order to treat the disease, your life is put on hold for well over a year while you endure painful injections and consume debilitating medications. Every day, you feel weak, exhausted. You can no longer work. Who do you blame? Kristen Parker? The scrub tech was promptly sentenced to thirty years in federal prison. She’s paying a price, but her incarceration does nothing to compensate you for your losses. Is it the hospital’s fault? After all, they hired her. If she had never been employed, the entire debacle would never have occurred. Or will you blame the doctors? After all, you think, if they hadn’t left their drugs in a place where Parker could steal them, you wouldn’t be fighting off a disease that no one deserves. Lawyers tell you that you deserve to be financially compensated. You start to believe them.
Now, for an instant, put your feet back in the shoes of the anesthesiologist. During your training, you were taught to have all your drugs ready to go and all equipment checked and immediately available before the patient enters the operating room. That way, if an emergency arose at any point, precious seconds would not be wasted and care could be administered immediately. You were also trained to trust the staff. A criminal preyed upon the vulnerabilities of a system based on trust and a doctor’s dedication to deliver optimal care. In spite of that, you, not the criminal, is being held accountable for her crimes.
It's Nothing Personal by Sherry Gorman MD
Synopsis: It’s Nothing Personal is a work of fiction inspired by my real-life journey through hell as I was torn apart in a high-profile, high-stakes medical malpractice suit. In the world of litigation, the noble concepts of right and wrong become meaningless. It’s all about winning, at any cost. Accusations are stated as if they are fact. The spin becomes more important than the truth. Manipulation and trickery are commonplace. It’s Nothing Personal is not only a compelling and gripping medical thriller; it’s also a story of triumph and strength.
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