Jeff Carter MD stood at the desk in the nurses' station of the ortho/neuro unit and stared at the order sheet. He couldn't make out the medication order, yet the pharmacy had sent penicillin. The patient had received part of a dose of a medicine he was allergic to. The reaction had been quickly countered by the nurse. For that he was thankful, but the whole situation bothered him. He hadn't ordered penicillin, but the order had been scrawled in the same shade of ink as the other orders.
He glared at the young nurse seated at the desk beneath the counter. "What happened?"
"I hung what the pharmacy sent."
He looked at her name pin. "Penny, didn't you see this?" He tapped the red allergy sticker on the front of the chart. Granted his handwriting wasn't the best and he'd been in a hurry, but someone should have called his office for clarification. "When I spoke to the pharmacist, he said he'd cleared the order with a nurse on this unit.
"Wasn't me." Tears welled in the young woman's eyes. "I didn't even see the orders.
"Where's the nurse manager?" Though Delores Forbes was the last person he wanted to see, this matter had to be resolved.
"She left early to take some comp time."
"Then who's in charge?"
The young nurse pushed strands of fair hair from her face. "I think . . . maybe Edna."
"Did Mrs. Forbes tell you she'd spoken to someone in the pharmacy?"
She stared at the desk. "She said not to bother her. She was in a rush to leave."
Jeff frowned. Had Delores known what had happened? If so, had she changed the order? "Could I see the incident report? Surely you filled one out."
"I slipped it under her office door, and it's locked."
Take ten deep breaths. He put the chart on the desk.
Though the allergic reaction had been halted immediately, there could have been a tragedy. He drummed his fingers against the Formica top of the counter. For the past two months, there'd been too many incidents involving his patients. He hoped the new nurse manager would find a way to turn this place around. Otherwise, he was going to recommend the Board close the unit.
After doing a complete examination of the patient, he returned to the nurses' station. The young woman looked up. "Is he all right?"
"Yes, and thanks for your quick action." He opened the chart. "Can I borrow your pen?"
Another nurse laughed. "Dr. Carter, surely you can afford to buy your own."
"I do, but they walk." He scrawled a note. "One more thing. If you ever have a problem reading my orders, call my office or my home."
"Mrs. Forbes doesn't allow anyone except her to make outside calls."
He handed her the chart. "Making calls to doctors when there's a question about an order or a patient's condition is standard procedure."
The girl nodded. "Yes, sir."
"By Monday you won't have to worry about Mrs. Forbes' rules. The new nurse manager will be here."
"If she stays. Mrs. Forbes says no one else wants the job."
Jeff frowned. Was Delores planning to blindside her replacement? Even if she succeeded, he'd see she wasn't given the position. He wheeled and left the unit. In the hall, he collided with his daughter.
"More gray hairs, Dad. You look ready to go on a rampage."
"Don't ask. Megan, why didn't you take the position as nurse manager on my unit?"
When she laughed her golden curls bounced. "Bad enough my big brother can order me around, but my father . . . . Please. So what happened?"
"Another incident, and this time it could have been serious."
"Your handwriting, I bet."
He shook his head. "No matter what it looks like, I didn't write the order."
"Why don't you print?"
"Don't be a smart mouth. Never learned how."
She put her hand on his arm. "Computers would solve the problem. Why don't you make the suggestion at the next Board meeting?"
"I don't have time to learn how to work one."
"That's right, you're ancient. Fifty-one in December." Her blue eyes sparkled with laughter. "They're simple. Just think, you could type your orders, and no one would complain. You wouldn't have to dictate reports or scrawl progress notes only you can read."
He shook his head. "Not sure handwriting's totally at fault. Why would a nurse manager forbid her staff to make outside calls?"
"To keep them from making personal calls on hospital time."
"Even to a doctor? One would have prevented the latest incident."
She frowned. "What are you saying?"
He shrugged. "Not sure yet. See you at dinner."
"Won't be there. The gang's helping Liz move in."
"The woman who's going to solve all your problems."
The gleam in her eyes alarmed him. "Megan."
"Dad, she's the new nurse manager. We're helping her move into Laurel's house."
"Why Laurel bought that house still puzzles me."
"To prove a point to my thick-headed brother." She turned. "Don't you remember Liz? She's one of the Grantley gang. You talked to her at Laurel's housewarming."
Jeff frowned. He'd brought ice cream. There'd been a tall woman with long dark hair. They'd spoken for a few minutes. She'd seemed shy. "Was she at the wedding?"
Megan shook her head. "She had to work. Trust Laurel not to give her friends much lead time."
Suspicions leaped into his thoughts. "Is this woman married?"
"She's a single mother with nine-year-old twin sons. She was the oldest member of our group."
"I'll pass on the festivities." He met her gaze. Spare me from a matchmaking daughter. He refused to be her next victim. He'd spent eleven years running from women with marriage on their minds. He didn't need another wife. The one he'd had had been perfect.
"Your choice." Megan backed away.
"I'll give her time to settle in."
Megan laughed. "So you won't confront her 'til Monday afternoon." She turned to leave. "You're not the most patient of men. Just make sure you don't put your foot in your mouth."
He stared after her. What did she mean by that?