House, Gregory. DOB 6/11/59. MRN 672869587
Dr House's chart is the biggest one in medical records. Eight volumes, bound together with a gigantic latex-free rubber band. The newest volumes lie on top. MRI. CT. CBC. Hepatic function panels. Dr Cuddy's illegible handwriting along the margins and in the progress notes, documenting the slow atrophy of his leg, the status of his liver; the level of his pain. Prescriptions layered under the medication tab taped crookedly one on top of another. Vicodin. Miralax. Coumadin. Azithromycin. Diphenhydramine. Oxycodone. Gabapentin. Some medications refilled as needed, some tried and abandoned. Piles of prescription carbons in Dr Wilson's left handed scrawl, and Dr Cuddy's elegant script. Other documents fill the chart; a copy of Dr House's amended advance health care directive, the releases of information to his pain management specialist, his surgeries, ER records and annual staff physicals.
Dr Cuddy hasn't seen patients regularly, not since she became the Dean of Medicine. The patients seen were of her choosing. Occasionally she'll see patients in the clinic, and old patients that request her now and again.
And of course, Dr House.
About four times a year, Dr Cuddy adds records to his chart. There's an appointment being scheduled, her assistant will say. He'll have an MRI, or some lab work done. His prescriptions are the only things that filter into the chart on a regular basis. Sometimes the new records are enough for her. Sometimes she wants to see the whole chart. And once a year, every year in July, she puts in a request to view his chart.
Dr House is an ass, everyone knows that. His charts are impossibly messy, or worse, incomplete. He lets his charts pile up for a year or more in a corner of his office and then one of the doctors on his team brings them back all at once with an apologetic smile.
A black hole, someone once called his office. He'll call down sometimes, when he thinks his charts are missing some test or report. He made one of the girls cry; and since that day she won't answer his calls. But no one deserves to suffer like he has. With every volume, Dr House is more human. Over ten years of medication and tests. Ten years of surgeries and transfusions, hospitalizations and follow up visits. His humanity lies between the manila covers, documented in reports and shorthanded scrawl.
Dr Cuddy wants his chart today. The edges are worn and frayed, the pages are curled and overlapping one another. Gathering them close, you bind them together and hand them to her assistant, who staggers at the weight of his records.
You imagine Dr Cuddy does the same.