My Inspiration for
It’s Nothing Personal
by Kate O’Reilley
Some people feel inspired to write, and then they go about the arduous task of creating a story. In my situation, things worked in reverse. My story was thrust upon me with fury and venom. When the dust settled, I was urged by close friends and co-workers to document my experiences. From the depths of misery, the words poured from my soul, and It’s Nothing Personal was born.
On a cold winter’s day in 2009, a surgical scrub technician named Kristen Parker was allegedly targeting unsuspecting anesthesiologists. According to Parker’s testimony, if she found herself alone in an operating, she would seize the opportunity – the opportunity to feed her drug addiction. Reportedly, she would steal syringes of Fentanyl, a powerful and addictive intravenous narcotic, from anesthesiologists’ carts. In order to conceal her theft, she stated that she would replace the stolen syringe with one containing saline and bearing a Fentanyl sticker. To the naked eye, the two syringes would have been indistinguishable. As time passed, however, Parker apparently became lazy. Instead of substituting clean syringes for the stolen ones, she would simply refill the syringes that she had used to inject herself. Purportedly, anesthesiologists used these syringes on patients during surgical procedures. Unfortunately, the syringes were contaminated with Parker’s deadly hepatitis C virus.
What ensued was a public health scare of epic proportions. Over five thousand terrified patients were tested en masse for the virus. Meanwhile, anesthesiologists at my hospital silently prayed that they would be spared and that none of their patients would end up infected. I was one of those doctors, selfishly hoping that it would involve somebody else, but not me.
Six months later, I was sued. My patient’s attorneys were among the most aggressive, ruthless, and successful malpractice lawyers in the region. As the lawsuit progressed, the stakes increased considerably. The plaintiff’s attorneys threatened to include punitive damages in the charges against me. If that happened, they could go after my personal assets. I was thrown into a dangerous and very cunning game of chess, but instead of fighting to protect my king, I was fighting for my life.
On my lawyer’s orders, I was locked in a world where I could talk to a very select group of individuals – my attorneys and my husband. Isolated from my peers, I dealt the grief, guilt, despair, embarrassment, self-doubt, and immeasurable sadness on my own. For over two solid years, the malpractice suit dominated my existence. There wasn’t a day that went by where it didn’t creep into my consciousness – some days more than others. During that time, I felt so alone, so tarnished, and so inferior.
The ordeal didn’t just unleash its devastation upon me. My husband and daughter both lived under a cloud of uncertainty and dread. Everything was falling apart.
When the situation finally came to a close, I felt obligated to document my experience. Although It’s Nothing Personal is a work of fiction, it is inspired by my personal journey through hell. As much as it is a story of sadness and corruption, it is also a story of survival.