The white coats formed a small circle in the hallway. Rounds were under way and the intern finished presenting the patient. He looked up at the attending physician. The two medical students and other intern followed suit. The senior resident looked blankly at the attending. The nurse taking care of the patient walked by and slowed down, hovering outside of the circle.

Other small circles dotted the hallway, all different teams rounding on their patients.

The door to the room was open. After telling the young physicians that he was tired, the patient asked them to come around another time. He then rolled over and ostensibly fell asleep.

The attending took a sip of coffee from the small paper cup and swallowed.

“Nice presentation,” he began. “But, you all should know that this patient is an sociopathic s—head and should be treated as such.”

The nurse looked down and stifled a cough. The medical students reflexively glanced at each other and raised their eyebrows. The intern scratched the back of his neck. The senior resident looked blankly at the attending.

Thereafter, they all avoided that room as much as possible.