Craig/Carol Lovatt: is the 28 year old protagonist of the story. He is a petite, slender, pretty-faced Anglo-Indian who works as a nurse in the renowned Acesco Hospital. He is a responsible nurse, but commits a rare mistake on Valentine’s Night. As a result of his negligence, a patient dies. The patient happens to be the wife of Norman Abbott, the dean of Acesco Hospital. In lieu of being sued for negligence, Craig opts to sign a contract drawn up by Mr. Abbott. The terms of the contract bind Craig to carry out a series of strange instructions given by Mr. Abbott without questioning. One of them entails going to hospital dressed in a female nurse’s uniform and identifying himself as “Nurse Carol Abbott”.

A Slippery Slope in a Hospital

“Forced to Work in Girls’ Uniform” series

Chapter 1 – The Gross Negligence

The time was 9pm. I, Nurse Craig Lovatt had been on the evening shift for a good 7 hours already. Since the date happened to be February 14th, Valentine’s Day, on which it has become a universal ritual to express romantic love towards one’s partner, I had planned a date with my girlfriend Theresa (Tessa, for short). The two of us had planned to meet in a multi-cuisine restaurant named “Rogue Elephant” which is a four hour drive from the hospital.

I had already asked the head nurse, Mildred Bosham, for permission to be allowed to leave the hospital an hour earlier than usual. She, in turn, had spoken to Chief Nursing Officer, Lara Jenkins who had rolled her eyes and said, “At least, four other nurses have asked to be let off duty early on Valentine’s Night. But hey, I think we’ll manage. After all, your personal lives are important to us too”.

I had profusely thanked her before I left. Right now, I made my way into the changing room. I had bought a new grey suit for the occasion. Before stripping, I surveyed myself in the mirror. A beautiful young man in his 20s, wearing the male nurses’ white tunic and associated epaulettes, stared back at me. A pendent watch, a rite-of-passage gift my dad had given me when I had become a full-fledged nurse, dangled on my delicate neck.

“Beautiful” and “Delicate” may sound like unusual adjectives for a man, but they did suit me perfectly. At 5’4, I didn’t have much of my tall, big boned Anglo-Indian parents in me. I was comely and slender, with a body that was dainty and fine-boned. Also, my face was smooth and chiseled like that of people from the North Eastern part of India or perhaps Far Eastern Asia. Since my family was all for cultural interbreeding, I attributed my physical appearance to one of my ancestors having been from East Asia.

I had started unbuttoning my white tunic, when Nurse Bosham’s voice sounded from the door. “Nurse Lovatt” she said peremptorily “come out for a second, will you?”

I buttoned my tunic and stepped out. Nurse Bosham’s round face was lined with worry. “What’s up, Madam?” I asked.

“Nurse Lovatt” Nurse Bosham said in an apologetic tone “could you please stay back for an hour or so, until Nurse Kapadia arrives for the night shift? All the other nurses on the evening shift are absconding, you see. We have an emergency case. The dean’s wife has suddenly been taken ill”. The dean of Acesco Hospital was an American named Norman Abbott. He also ran a health insurance company that funded the hospital. I’d heard that the Abbotts were basically Americans, but had lived in India for a very long time.

“Drat” I thought “Why do such things happen only to me?”

I exhaled audibly and followed Nurse Lovatt to the inpatients’ ward. A grey-haired over-weight woman, roughly in her late 50s, was convulsively jerking her arms and legs. The abrupt movements caused her wiry grey hair to jerk free of her pony-tail, making her look extremely unkempt. I couldn’t help noticing that her night gown was faded and drab. I looked at the patient’s name and age. 57 year old Vivian Abbott wasn’t a pretty sight.

“Epilepsy?” I asked the Nurse Bosham.

“Yes” said Nurse Bosham “plus potential depression of the respiratory system caused by alcohol ingestion. In addition to having fits, Mrs. Abbott is severely intoxicated as well. Dr. Moira Jacob will brief you up about the rest. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another patient to attend”. With the above information given succinctly, Nurse Bosham left me.

Presently, Dr. Jacob joined me. She was a peevish young woman in her mid 30s. These days, Dr. Jacob was especially bad-tempered, since she was undergoing treatment for infertility. The hormones she had been put on, for egg-retrieval, caused extreme mood swings in her.

“Give her Carbamazepine” Dr. Jacob said to me abruptly “and yeah, since Mrs. Abbott is here for the first time, go low and go slow”.

“Yes, doctor” I said “but don’t you think we need to go through Mrs. Abbott’s medical history first? After all, it might have information we’re unaware of”. I was in the habit of setting up treatment sheets before I started treating any of my patients.

“Good Lord, Nurse Lovatt!” Dr. Jacob snapped “where do I ferret out her history from??”

“We could probably ask….” I said timidly “has someone accompanied her?”

“Yeah, there was a woman who had accompanied her” Dr. Jacob said irritably “I think she’s Mrs. Abbott’s domestic help. The woman has gone to get herself coffee. And we can’t afford to wait for eternity! So, do as I say and give her the goddamn drug!!”.

I wasn’t sure at all if I ought to follow Dr. Jacob’s orders. First of all, we didn’t know Mrs. Abbott’s medical history. In addition, apart from suffering from epilepsy, Mr. Abbott was heavily drunk as well. This aspect made the case more complicated than it looked.

Probably Dr. Jacob wasn’t in the best state of mind because of the hormones injected during her in-vitro treatment. Perhaps I ought to fetch Nurse Bosham. Or consult Ms. Jenkins.

“Don’t obsess, you fool!” a voice inside my head reprimanded “you can still make it to Rogue Elephant. Send Tessa a message and tell her you’ll meet her in about forty-five minutes. And for heaven’s sake, give the patient Carbamazepine like the goddamn doctor is telling you to and be done with it!”

I gave Mrs. Abbott the medicine as Dr. Jacob had ordered. Then Dr. Jacob examined her. After all, the potential depression of Mrs. Abbott’s respiratory system also had to be looked into. During the initial examination, it was documented that Mrs. Abbott was responsive to pain and able to speak in a slurred manner. Also, she could move her extremities. There was no apparent trauma.

Next, on Dr. Jacob’s orders, I shifted Mrs. Abbott into a movable stretcher and wheeled her into the ICU. I evaluated the patient for about ten minutes. The lines on the monitor, monitoring electric activity of the heart, blood pressure etc showed that Mrs. Abbott’s condition was quite stable.

I looked at my pendent watch. It was only 9:30 pm. There was still time to slip away, get dressed and drive to meet Tessa at Rogue Elephant. Mrs. Abbott seemed to be doing quite okay. Besides, Nurse Kapadia would arrive in half an hour.

I left the ICU and surreptitiously slipped into the changing room. I wore the smart grey suit, slicked my hair with hair gel and sneaked unseen into the parking lot through the rear exit of the hospital. Then I got into my second hand red Maruti 800 car and drove down towards Rogue Elephants’……


While I was still dreaming of the sweet kisses and murmurings Tessa and I had exchanged the previous night, I was awakened by the persistent ringing of my mobile phone. I recognized the number on the screen as that of Ms. Jenkins’.

“Good morning, Ms. Jenkins” I sleepily said “what’s up?”

“Nurse Lovatt” Ms. Jenkins’s voice sounded grim “please get here as soon as possible”.

I quickly got dressed in a striped shirt and beige trousers and drove down to the hospital. I met Ms. Jenkins and Nurse Bosham at the entrance. Both of them looked grim, and somewhat accusatory. At that instance, I knew something was seriously wrong.

“You slipped away before your shift ended yesterday” Ms. Jenkins said glaring at me piercingly. Hers was a statement, not a question.

“And you gave the patient Carbamazepine without even having checked her medical history” said Nurse Bosham severely “Did you know Mrs. Abbott was allergic to it?”

“Well, Dr. Jacob asked me to…” I said my mouth going dry “I just followed her orders”.

“We all know very well, Nurse Lovatt” said Ms. Jenkins accusingly “that Dr. Jacob hasn’t been herself lately. Hospital rules state that if there is the slightest doubt in the nurse’s mind, regarding the prudence of a doctor’s decision, they should consult another authority. You can’t blindly follow orders when you know the doctor in charge is wrong. If in your situation, even a novice nurse would have consulted either Nurse Bosham or me”.

I swallowed in panic. It had crossed my mind to fetch either Nurse Bosham or Ms. Jenkins before administering Carbamazepine to Mrs. Abbott. It was something I should have done as a responsible nurse. However, I had decided not to because I was more concerned about my Valentine Night’s date with Tessa.

“Besides, Nurse Lovatt” said Nurse Bosham “you left the patient unattended for half an hour, until Nurse Kapadia got here for the night shift. The minimum standard of care calls upon the nurse on duty to monitor the patient’s respiratory rate every 15 minutes….however, you sneaked away without informing anyone and left Mrs. Abbott’s respiratory status unmonitored…..”

“I am sorry” I said earnestly “I sincerely apologize. It was very unprofessional on my part to leave the patient unattended for so long”.

The two women maintained a stony silence. A strange uneasiness gripped me.

“By the way” I asked timidly “how’s Mrs. Abbott doing today?”

“She died, Nurse Lovatt” said Ms. Jenkins coldly “by the time Nurse Kapadia arrived, Mrs. Abbott wasn’t breathing. She was cyanotic; her pupils were fixed and dilated. The autopsy report is yet to come in, but we suspect respiratory arrest was the cause of death”.

I froze with fear. Mrs. Abbott was dead. It had been my duty to consult with other superiors before administering the dubious drug, but I had omitted to do that. It had also been my–solely my–responsibility to stay back until the end of my shift and to closely monitor the patient’s condition. However, I had slipped away because Mrs. Abbott’s seemed quite stable.

The powerful dean’s wife was dead. And she died because of me.


Please click here to read the rest of the story.


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