When Loyalties Clash

Dr. Jones had excellent bedside manner. She listened empathetically to patients and exuded a comforting energy. The staff liked her. Her patients were devoted to her. The residents enjoyed her easygoing style.

The first time my chief resident assigned me to be Dr. Jones’ surgical assistant, I was relieved. As an intern fresh out of medical school, you always breathe easier operating with a laid-back attending. My chief resident reminded me that I should call her for help at any time. She didn’t expect any trouble though. It was a routine minor procedure.

Broken Trust

The first time I met Nikki she lied to me, omitting key aspects of her medical history and denying substance abuse. When I confronted her with lab results, she demanded that I repeat every blood and urine collection because the hospital must have mixed up her specimens with someone else’s. She had a ‘don’t-mess-with-me’ attitude from the start. I was up for the challenge.

Missing the Obvious

The first time I met Ms. B, I found a turkey sandwich hidden under her right breast.

“I left it there for safekeeping,” she explained, chuckling. Ms. B had to sweet-talk an eager nursing student into getting it from the cafeteria. “Shhhh,” she gestured with her index finger up to her lips.

Ms. B had just come out of the ICU, having been admitted for heart failure, blood clots in her lungs, and uncontrolled diabetes. Weighing almost 450 pounds, she needed help to turn over in bed, so she rarely moved. It wasn’t until her transfer to a cardiac unit that her new nurse noticed something she didn’t recognize between Ms. B’s thighs. An in-hospital OB/GYN consult was promptly ordered, and there I was.

Faith in Real Life

Mike was a towering man with army tattoos who clearly felt out of place on a labor and delivery floor. He carried a pink bag filled with baby supplies, a bulky car seat, and an overstuffed leather purse. His wife, Kerry, clung to him, cursing and digging her manicured nails into his arm with every labor contraction. He was relieved when the anesthesiologist came to place Kerry’s epidural.

I liked the two of them right away. Mike was good-natured and cheerful. He called me “Doc,” and bragged that he once helped deliver a baby in a cab. Mike and Kerry’s first child was delivered by c-section because “the baby was sunny side up.” The couple wanted to try for a vaginal delivery this time.