Good Clinical Practice III

Last in a multi-part series. Part one. Part two.

Reighner closed the door and leaned against it. He shut his eyes and exhaled a tired, pleading breath. Thirty minutes until rounds. He could get some sleep.

But that was not to happen. He saw Price approaching from the corner of his eye.

"You gotta get out of here, Lazine is on the warpath."

Price didn't answer. The men met eyelock, and it became clear that something serious had happened. And in a hospital, serious things meant serious.

His voice was hollow. "He died."

That, in itself, was no surprise. "Who?"

"Twenty eight."

Reighner felt the floor drop from underneath him. His mind took flight, recording everything, etching it deep into his subconscious. He remembered exactly what time it was, what pens Price had in his pocket, the tone that he delivered the news.

"How."

"Bradford's disease."

He connected the dots in his mind. Post-operative. Headache. Parathesia. Nonspecific abdominal pain. It was obvious.

Reighner said nothing. Somehow, he knew the way this scene would unfold.

"The family's in the consult room. His wife and two children.

"They're going to convene an M&M."

Reighner pushed himself into motion. He walked toward the consult rooms.

Price looked at his friend's back. "You can't tell them what happened."

Reighner slowly turned around. His mind was still hyperaware. "No." He resumed his death row walk.

"Listen to me." Price put his hand on Reighner's shoulder, but he shrugged away from it. His mind was made up.

Price flung himself forward. He moved in front of Reighner and grabbed him by the lapels of his white coat. He shoved him against the wall. There was a rip.

"Listen to me!"

Spittle flew onto Reighner's face.

"You frakked up, missed a diagnosis, and killed a man. You don't do it again. What do you think is going to happen when you tell the family? They will sue your ass to oblivion. They will sue this hospital to oblivion. They'll take away your license. Look! He was only a Saggie! You have more lives to save. Just promise me you'll never do it again, and nobody has to know."

Reighner shoved Price. He was suddenly and passionately moved, driven to the extremes by lack of sleep and lack of decency. "Even an idiot like Reynolds could've made that call!"

Price stuck his finger in Reighner's face. "You walk in there and tell that family, your life is over."

"Frak you." Reighner ran the back of his hand over his lips and walked to the consult room. He put his hand on the doorknob.

And he thought.

It was true what Price had said. His career would be over. The faceless hospital bureaucrats would convene the morbidity and mortality conference. They would review the orders, follow the continuity of care, conduct interviews. 'Dr. Reighner, we have determined that your behaviors were inconsistent and negligent with the required quality of care, and have recommended that your residency be terminated and your behaviors be forwarded to the Scorpian Medical Board to consider revocation of your medical license.' Twenty eight. He had asked Price to find Reighner. He knew that Price didn't log it — he had joked that paper trails were too incriminating. Nobody knew. Nobody could have known. It was only a simple mistake.

But it wasn't right. Was it?

His hand tightened on the knob.

He opened the door.

"I'm Dr. Reighner."

-- + --

"Professionalism. Honesty. Honor. These are the tenets of good clinical practice, and these are the tenets that will carry you into physicianhood.

"You entered this institution four years ago, and today, you will officially leave us. I hope you understand, it was only appropriate, that the last lesson you have came from the oldest man in this school."

There was a smattering of laughter.

"Congratulations. Although, today, you have all earned the title of physician, your journeys are just beginning."

He spread his arms out.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the graduating class!"

Reighner stood and enthusiastically applauded, joining in the ebb of the crowd. His hands hurt, but he didn't mind. He knew, in his heart of hearts, that he would be the best doctor there ever was.

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