A diligent nurse tries to survive the traps of a sloppy hospital department in this debut novel.
Andrea Pastori is an exemplary nurse who brings a combination of expertise, instinct, compassionate bedside manner and personal responsibility to her job. Unfortunately, she can’t say the same for the rest of her coworkers on the sixth floor of Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Despite her best efforts to keep the unit in order, mistakes—and occasional cover-ups—plague the hospital. Hospital lawyers and administrators bounce between intensive-care units and risk-management boardrooms. At-risk patients are overlooked or ignored, recovering patients get wrong dosages of medicine, and one not-so-lucky man gets a sponge sewed inside of him as a souvenir from his surgery. In the middle of this mess, Andrea tries to keep things on track while juggling friendships, a meager love life and sporadic family issues. Andrea is a believable nurse—overworked and under pressure—and she serves as an apt mouthpiece for the author’s personal and professional commentary. Terrence, a nurse, deeply knows the medical industry and the problems that plague it. Her use of detail as she describes procedures and protocols is very good, and her insightful, matter-of-fact reporting on patients’ lives and deaths is both scientific and human. Unfortunately, her descriptions of medical incidents are brief and repetitive, as are her characters’ water-cooler reactions. The novel often couches its lessons in heavy-handed diatribes and speeches disguised as barroom dialogue. Despite this, however, the author often manages to deliver sharp and insightful thoughts about her profession.
A solid, passionate survey of the nursing profession, buried in an uneven novel.