Monday, March 11, 2013

'It's Nothing Personal': Author Kate O'Reilley uses fiction to tell the truth

On a chilly January morning, anesthesiologist Dr. Jenna Reiner made her daily drive to St. Augustine hospital, completely unaware that her life was about to change forever. One of the surgical technicians in her hospital has been stealing syringes, and infecting patients with hepatitis C. The battle against the thieving surgical technician was only the beginning. Jenna Reiner was about to begin the fight of her life - the fight for her reputation, her pride, and her sanity. Beautifully composed, and inspired by real-life events, It's Nothing Personal is a riveting, suspenseful, and emotional thriller that tells the story of faith and fortitude when an innocent woman finds herself surrounded by corruption and greed.

Kate O’Reilley

Kate O’Reilley is a physician specializing in anesthesiology.  In late 2009, life brought Kate to her knees when she was named in a high-profile medical malpractice suit.  The ordeal nearly destroyed her.  When the dust settled, friends and colleagues urged Kate to write a book about her experience.

Heeding their advice, Kate poured her heart into her first novel.  IT’S NOTHING PERSONAL provides a fictional account of Kate’s experience, peppered with some unexpected twists.  To many, it will be an eye-opening glimpse into the relentless and corrupt world of medical malpractice.

Working tirelessly, Kate has also completed her second novel.  IN GOOD HANDS is a gripping account of Dr. Mandy McGowen, an anesthesiologist who starts dispensing her own version of justice on patients at a county hospital.  IN GOOD HANDS WILL BE RELEASED SUMMER 2013.

Kate O’Reilley also entertains her readers through her blog at  A demonstration of Kate’s wit and sarcastic humor, her posts expose idiosyncrasies, atrocities, and contradictions in our world. 

A native of Colorado, Kate continues to live in the Rocky Mountain state with her husband and their daughter.  In Kate’s spare time, she enjoys running, reading and spending time with her family.  Her family vacations are always spent in Hawaii, a place that Kate and her family hold dear to their hearts.  Having lived on Oahu while her daughter was young, Kate and her family relish the day when they can return to the islands permanently.

My Inspiration for It’s Nothing Personal
A Guest Post by
Kate O’Reilley

Some people feel inspired to write, and then they go about the arduous task of creating a story.  In my situation, things worked in reverse.  My story was thrust upon me with fury and venom.  When the dust settled, I was urged by close friends and co-workers to document my experiences.  From the depths of misery, the words poured from my soul, and It’s Nothing Personal was born.  

On a cold winter’s day in 2009, a surgical scrub technician named Kristen Parker was allegedly targeting unsuspecting anesthesiologists.  According to Parker’s testimony, if she found herself alone in an operating, she would seize the opportunity – the opportunity to feed her drug addiction.  Reportedly, she would steal syringes of Fentanyl, a powerful and addictive intravenous narcotic, from anesthesiologists’ carts.  In order to conceal her theft, she stated that she would replace the stolen syringe with one containing saline and bearing a Fentanyl sticker.  To the naked eye, the two syringes would have been indistinguishable.  As time passed, however, Parker apparently became lazy.  Instead of substituting clean syringes for the stolen ones, she would simply refill the syringes that she had used to inject herself.  Purportedly, anesthesiologists used these syringes on patients during surgical procedures.  Unfortunately, the syringes were contaminated with Parker’s deadly hepatitis C virus.

What ensued was a public health scare of epic proportions.  Over five thousand terrified patients were tested en masse for the virus.  Meanwhile, anesthesiologists at my hospital silently prayed that they would be spared and that none of their patients would end up infected.  I was one of those doctors, selfishly hoping that it would involve somebody else, but not me.

Six months later, I was sued.  My patient’s attorneys were among the most aggressive, ruthless, and successful malpractice lawyers in the region.  As the lawsuit progressed, the stakes increased considerably.  The plaintiff’s attorneys threatened to include punitive damages in the charges against me.  If that happened, they could go after my personal assets.  I was thrown into a dangerous and very cunning game of chess, but instead of fighting to protect my king, I was fighting for my life.

On my lawyer’s orders, I was locked in a world where I could talk to a very select group of individuals – my attorneys and my husband.  Isolated from my peers, I dealt the grief, guilt, despair, embarrassment, self-doubt, and immeasurable sadness on my own.  For over two solid years, the malpractice suit dominated my existence.  There wasn’t a day that went by where it didn’t creep into my consciousness – some days more than others.  During that time, I felt so alone, so tarnished, and so inferior.

The ordeal didn’t just unleash its devastation upon me.  My husband and daughter both lived under a cloud of uncertainty and dread.  Everything was falling apart.

When the situation finally came to a close, I felt obligated to document my experience.  Although It’s Nothing Personal is a work of fiction, it is inspired by my personal journey through hell.  As much as it is a story of sadness and corruption, it is also a story of survival.

Up close and personal with author Kate O'Reilley:

Can you tell me about writing the book?
The book is inspired by my personal experience as a physician sued in a high-profile case.  I risked a great deal even writing it, and more so with my recent interviews with the local press.  In the end, I feel strongly that it is an issue that needs to be aired, regardless of the personal repercussions.  This event brought a hospital to its knees.  I’m sure there will be those who are angry with me for causing the story to resurface.  However, after living through the most stressful event of my life, I feel compelled to expose what a malpractice suit does to a physician.  I hope doing so helps other doctors in the future who are facing something similar.

Tell me about the characters.
When it comes to Jenna Reiner, her experiences and emotions are very much my own.  The other characters are creations of my imagination.

Tell me about the deposition. Was it as intimidating as indicated in the book?
Much of the deposition reflects exactly what happened in that dreadful conference room high above the city.  

Can you tell me about the publicity surrounding the your case?
As far as news stories, there are a few.  It humiliates me up to reveal them, but they are part of the story.  In late November, early December of 2011, we were in the middle of settlement negotiations.  I was broken, and I wanted out.  Just like in the book, my family and I flew to Hawaii on Thanksgiving Day.  My attorneys assured me that the lawsuit would be settled by the time we got back.  On Black Friday, the first ‘real’ day of our vacation, my office notified me that a reporter was attempting to reach me.

Rick Salinger, a local television reporter, was demanding to reach me for comment.  That night, he aired a story on the CBS affiliate here in Denver.  A week later, while still on vacation, I was notified of another potential story being pursued by Michael Booth from the Denver Post.  That story ended up being published on the front page of the paper on my first Monday back from vacation.  The scenes and emotions from the book don't begin to tell the true horror I experienced on that Monday morning.  That event pushed me into a very dark place.

Why the pen name and not your real name?
At the time that I began writing It’s Nothing Personal, I was very wounded.  I thought it would be better to keep my true identity a mystery.  However, since the book’s publication, I’ve become stronger.  I’ve also become driven by the desire to help other doctors who are facing malpractice litigation.  In order to tell my story, I was compelled to reveal my identity.  However, I will continue to write as Kate.  For me, Kate O’Reilley represents hope and optimism.  In many ways, I identify much more with the new me (as Kate) than my former self (Sherry Gorman).

Kate (Sherry) provided me with the following news links. Please pay special attention to her message below, because as most of us have already had the experience of knowing - the news media does tend to take things out of context in order to sensationalize stories. 

Please know that when you read the article for Channel 4 and The Denver Post, the reporters took things out of context.  My attorneys forbade me to comment.  In the eyes of the public, “no comment” is equivalent to an admission of guilt.  

In particular, the Denver Post article contains particularly damaging statements quoted from my deposition.  These words, admittedly, were uttered from my mouth.  However, they were taken completely out of context.  

In one statement, Michael Booth writes that I consider drug diversion to be “urban legend” and “folklore.”  In reality, these words came after a series of hostile questions from the patient’s attorney.  She asked me repeatedly if I had knowledge of specific drug diversions that had occurred at Rose Medical Center, unrelated to Kristen Parker.  Each time she asked whether I had knowledge about a particular diversion, I answered, “no.”  Finally, she asked me if I had any knowledge that drugs are ever stolen.  I interpreted the question as being very general.  My answer reflected my interpretation.  I explained that everyone who works in the OR has heard stories of drugs being stolen, and that these stories were basically “urban legend.”  My intention was not to minimize or trivialize the issue.  It was merely to point out that, in a general sense, this is common knowledge.  In the same response, I explained that no one had ever heard any stories of a person doing something like Kristen Parker allegedly did.  That is, stealing syringes of narcotics, injecting them into herself, and replacing the stolen syringes with contaminated ones, knowing they would be used on patients.  Not surprisingly, my explanation was omitted.

In my blog post, “My Redemption,” I further elaborate on these misrepresentations. I was also able to defend myself in my interview with Kim Christiansen (9News).

My Review:

I am going to say first of all that I have been spending some time over on Kate's blog. It is well worth the trip - only if you are not opposed to rotfl (rolling on the floor laughing!) This brave lady also has a sense of humor!

My first chapter review:
It's Nothing Personal is Kate O'Reilley's first book and she's started it with a bang. The writing is intelligent and the characters were well on their way to distinguishing their personalities in the just the first chapter. 

The book begins with Dr. Jenna Reiner hurrying along snow covered roads to work, hoping to be on time for the morning's surgery. The author then sets the scene with Dr. Jenna Reiner, the anaesthesiologist, Hillary the scrub tech, and Rebecca, the circulating nurse in the operating room, each setting up their respective stations. 

The author's background as an anaesthesiologist, plays to the reader's advantage as she sets the scene for surgery. We watch as Dr. Jenna Reiner gathers the narcotics and supplies from the locked cabinet and places them in her surgical cart, and with a nagging feeling, leaves the OR and Hillary, the scrub tech behind. The chapter ends with Hillary removing the syringes of narcotics and replacing them with syringes of saline solution.

The first chapter left this reader with a feeling of unease, imagining they were being prepped for the surgery that would be taking place in that particular operating room (and highly anticipating the second chapter).  If the rest of the book is as well written as the first chapter, then It's Nothing Personal promises pages of nail-biting suspense and drama.

My review of the entire book:
I was captivated after completing the first chapter and went on to read the entire book - as fast as I could! What unfolded and took up the remaining chapters of the book was a bone-chilling fiction documentary (right or wrong - these are my descriptive words) of the author's life. Not only does the author use her anaesthesiology background to give the reader first hand knowledge of the inside workings of an OR, but she goes on to use her lawsuit deposition experience to enlighten the reader to the nerve wracking tactics of barracuda attorneys. The story also shows how friendships and marriage can be tested to the limits, and how even the most loyal of friends may be forced to do things to save themselves. 

The author did an amazing job of taking the reader into her life, her being, her emotions, until the words on the pages left this reader exhausted from having stood by Dr. Jenna Reiner's side for two years of her life. It's Nothing Personal (and you will learn that phrase well) takes the reader through the two years of the battle; from the beginning when the surgical tech's abuse of the operating room is discovered, through the agonizing period of waiting to see if the doctor's patients have been infected, and the ensuing malpractice law suit.

After reading the book and knowing that it was based on Kate O'Reilley's real-life experience, my overwhelming curiosity led me to hit the Internet and begin researching. My first stop was the author's website and blog page, and then an in-depth conversation with the author. 

In the book, the author speaks of her one true disappointment in the ordeal her family experienced due to the lawsuits. She was not allowed the opportunity to stand up for what she she believed in - justice, and to be the role model for her daughter that she wished to be. She was finally able to accomplish this. The author, Dr. Sherry Gorman, revealed her true identity recently, with the help of Kim Christiansen (9News), in the hopes of helping other physicians.

In closing, I would like to say once again, what a captivating book. It was intelligently written with fully developed characters. The story was intense and suspenseful. It is definitely a book worth reading and I would give it 15 stars if they were available. 

Book Quotes:

I would sue everyone involved and take him or her for all that they had. I wouldn't stop until everyone who bore any responsibility suffered miserable. I would seek revenge. At that exact moment, Jenna fully comprehended the degree of trouble she faced if she indeed had an infected patient.

At that moment, Jenna's entire life was dissolving. Everything she had strived to achieve was blowing away, like a pile of dust. Standing in the small room, Jenna felt the air grow thick and heavy. It hurt to breathe. Scorching bile rose up from her stomach, coating the back of her throat. She stared at the letter, but the words bled into one another - a sheet of blurry black waves upon a white background. Jenna needed to flee before anyone could see her. Attempting to escape, her legs buckled beneath her. Unsteady and weak, she pushed herself into motion.

"The judge cleared his throat, never for a second taking his eyes off of Hillary Martin. "Ms. Martin, how do you wish to plea?" "Guilty, Your Honor," she replied, this time slightly louder. "Do you enter this plea on your own free will and not under any coercion or external influence?" "Yes sir." The judge smacked his gavel once. The thud echoed throughout the crowded courtroom, like a gun being fired. "The court rejects your guilty plea."

"Besides your (Jenna) performance in court, your deposition will probably be the most important thing you contribute to your case. To be brutally honest, the purpose of your deposition is singular. It's Anders' chance to get you to hang yourself with your own words. She will try to get you to admit that what you did was wrong. She will attempt to twist our words, trip you up, and make you appear dishonest. She will hammer you with the same questions over and over again for hours in hopes that you will eventually contradict yourself. All while you are being videotaped, audiotaped, and every word you say is transcribed by a court reporter."

"Mommy, please don't cry," Mia begged. "Everything will be okay. Daddy and I promise. Don't we, Daddy?"...Jenna blindly followed her daughter into the bedroom. For Mia's sake, Jenna let her pick out a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt. In a reversal of roles, Mia helped Jenna pull her cotton scrub top over her head and tossed it into the hamper...Indulging her daughter was the best thing that had happened to Jenna all day.

Lyle had been secluded in his office for the duration of the deposition. He watched the events unfold from a live video stream supplied by multiple hidden cameras embedded at strategic locations within the conference room. His entire day was spent dissecting the facial expressions, body language, and mannerisms of everyone in the room, particularly those of Dr. Reiner. On more than one occasion  Lyle fought the impulse to barge in and attack her. The doctor's soft-spoken nature and composure incensed him.

Reprinted from Kate O'Reilley's website:

Kate O’Reilley is a physician, specializing in anesthesiology.  In late 2009, Kate was plunged into a painful battle in a high-profile, medical malpractice suit.  The calamity that ensued nearly destroyed Kate and her family.  After the suit ended and the wounds started to heal, Kate was urged by close friends and co-workers to document her experiences.  The words flowed, and It’s Nothing Personal was born from Kate’s journey through her temporary hell.

Through the process of writing It’s Nothing Personal, Kate has come to terms with her ordeal.  She has emerged a new person, with a new goal — to share with the public and other doctors the brutal reality of medical malpractice suits.  Speaking openly about the trauma of being sued is considered taboo amongst most physicians.  That unspoken code of silence inflicts further isolation and grief upon the doctor who has everything on the line. For a doctor whose skills and judgement are publicly questioned and scrutinized, the stress is all-encompassing.  Most physicians are irrevocably changed, and some are even pushed to the ultimate breaking point — suicide.  In order to publicly address this topic, Kate was forced to summon the courage to reveal her real-life identity, Dr. Sherry Gorman.  Her story has been featured in a televised interview on the Denver NBC affiliate, on radio, and in the national publication, The Daily Beast.  If even one physician gains some level of solace in Dr. Gorman’s/Kate O’Reilley’s story, she will feel the personal risks she faces associated with going public will have been worth it.
Although Dr. Gorman has publicly shared her identity, she identifies more with her pen name Kate O’Reilley.  For this woman who has endured so much heartache, Kate O’Reilley represents her new spirit.  One that is filled with hope, optimism, and a new found passion in writing.
Kate’s second book, In Good Hands, is a moving, gripping, and tragic story of an anesthesiologist who dispenses her own version of  justice after being the innocent victim of a brutal crime.
Kate currently resides in Colorado with her husband and beautiful daughter.  In her spare time, she enjoys running, writing, reading, and spending time with her family.  Her family vacations are always spent in Hawaii, a place that Kate and her family hold dear to their hearts.  Having lived on Oahu while her daughter was young, Kate and her family relish the day when they can return to the islands permanently.
If you found my review helpful, please consider voting "yes" on my review on Amazon by following the link below. Thank you!

Purchase It's Nothing Personal by clicking on the icon below:

I was provided with a free book in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. wow, that sounds like an incredible book and a terrifying ordeal based on the author's own experience. adding to my Goodreads to-read list! visiting from your post on my Google + profile.

  2. Great review Donna!

    I am now following you through Linky Followers (connecting with you from the Google Plus book group).

    Would love for you to stop by, check out my reviews and join our community at Create With Joy as well!

    Have an awesome week!

    Create With Joy


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to comment! I really appreciate it! I read each and every response, and I love hearing thoughts and opinions from fellow bloggers, readers, and authors. If you have a blog, please leave a link so I can visit you back. Thank you.

I try to answer most comments, so if you would like to read my response, please visit often. Or, just click the "Email follow-up comments to [...]" box before publishing, to receive notification of new comments.

If you have to leave a comment anonymously, don't leave one at all. I will delete it. Own up to your thoughts.