Friday, March 16, 2012

The Red Light

He was an older man, lying head-up in the Intensive Care Unit attached to telemetry and pulse oximetry monitors.  A small plastic cannula irritated the columella of his nose.  He lifted his hand to scratch the area, but the IV tubing in his hand did the work for him sooner than he expected.  He looked at the wall behind him. 

"So far so good," he thought.

A soft knock was heard on the wall outside his room.

"Come in," he uttered.

A bright young woman in a neatly-pressed pant suit entered, carrying a clip board. 

"Hello, Mr. Smith, my name is Sally.  I'm from the Office of Patient Advocacy.  I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about your stay here in the ICU."

"I don't see why not," he said, straining his head to see the wall behind him once more.  He looked back at her.  "Go ahead."

"How have the staff been here?  Any problems?"

"No!  They've been wonderful.  Really.  Can't say enough about them except 'Fantastic.'"

He quickly looked at the wall again, then tuned back.

"Have the staff been responsive to you when you needed something?" the advocate asked.

"I'll say!  Couldn't be nicer, but the food still needs some work."

She jotted something on her clipboard then looked up and saw the man glancing at the wall behind him again.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Smith, is there something that's concerning you?"

He turned back to her and waved to her to come closer, looking concerned.

"You see that light back there, the yellow one?"

"Yes," she said.

"Well I don't know what it's for, but last night, the guy's next to me turned red and twenty people rushed into his room and beat the poor guy to death."


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