Code of Ethics

By: Lynette Eason

one

“GET HIM TO SURGERY, ASAP! OR NUMBER FOUR.”

Dr. Ruthie St. John followed the gurney down the hall to the elevator that would take them to the second floor. As a trauma surgeon in a busy city, she wasn’t often bored. This shift proved to be no different. “Go, go! How’s his blood pressure?”

“Low, but he’s stable right this second. Bleeding is slowing.”

Another team hurried past them with Dr. Hugh Stancil working on the woman in the gurney next to her patient. He glanced at her. “I’ve got room four.”

The elevator doors opened and she raised a brow. “Not if I get there first.”

The doors shut on his scowling features. Ruthie wasn’t worried. She knew room three was open and he would be directed there. Everyone just seemed to like room four. For her, it was because it was where she’d performed her first surgery. For Hugh, it was a matter of putting her in her place. Something she did her best not to let him get away with.

They continued to monitor the patient on the ride up. He blinked up at her. “What happened?”

“You were shot.”

“Who are you?”

“Dr. Ruthie St. John. I’m going to take that bullet out of your shoulder.”

“I’m fine.”

She patted his arm. “You will be.”

“No, seriously,” he slurred. “I can’t . . . have to . . . people trying to kill . . .”

Then the medicine took over and his eyes closed, shutting off whatever protest he was trying to form.

When the doors slid open, the surgical team met them and whisked him off to the operating room. Ruthie ripped off her gloves and tossed them in the biohazard bin. She nudged the faucet on and began to scrub in. Working quickly, she followed all procedures before entering the room where she’d do her best to repair his shoulder so he wouldn’t have any lingering aftereffects. Granted, he wasn’t knocking at death’s door, but bullet wounds were sneaky. “What’s his story?”

“Police officer,” she heard over the speaker. “Isaac Martinez. A detective, actually. He responded to a domestic disturbance and caught a bullet for his trouble.”

Ruthie wondered if her law enforcement family knew him. “Did someone call the chief?” she asked as she entered the OR, sterile hands held in front of her.

“Don’t know.” Her attending snapped the gloves over her hands.

Tabitha St. John, Ruthie’s mother and the Chief of Police for the city of Columbia, South Carolina. Any time there was an officer-involved shooting, the chief was informed. She’d probably show up at the hospital before they were out of surgery.

No matter. It wasn’t her problem. His wound was, and it was time to do her stuff. “Is he under?”

The anesthesiologist nodded.

“Vitals?”

Meg, the nurse on duty, called them out to her.

Ruthie inhaled the cleansing deep breath she always took and let it out slowly behind the mask. Then she picked up the small forceps tool that would allow her to extract the bullet. “Let’s get this done.” Working quickly, she established that the bullet was lodged in the space between the clavicle and the first rib.

Amazing.

She looked up at the nurse. “I guess if you have to get shot in the shoulder, that’s the place to do it.”

“No messy bone fragments,” Meg said.

“Doesn’t appear to be.” She removed the bullet and dropped it in the pan Meg offered to her. It would be turned over as evidence. Ruthie checked the surrounding tissues for any bone fragments or bleeding, then nodded to her resident. “You can sew him up.”

Isaac heard the voices, but for some reason he couldn’t force himself to respond. His eyes wouldn’t open, his limbs refused to move. And who’d set his shoulder on fire?

He had to focus, had to wake up. Or was he already awake? Or dreaming? But the voices sounded so real. And became clearer with each passing moment.

“. . . very fortunate. The bullet didn’t hit any bones. I simply had to remove it, repair some damaged tissue as best I could, and stitch him up. He’s also on antibiotics to ward off infection. Fortunately, there’s no serious damage, but he’ll definitely need to take it easy while he heals.”