Ultimately, fueled by the knowledge that House has saved a patient’s life, Cofield concludes that although House’s methods are dangerous, they are too effective to simply ignore. The case is decided as “nobody’s fault”; House and his team are absolved of wrongdoing. But in an interesting turnabout, House refuses to embrace this conclusion. Is he just being defiant, or is there something deeper going on as he berates Cofield for being a coward in declining to assign blame—to anyone. It is almost as if House is disappointed that Cofield hasn’t recommended action against him, which would have sent him back to prison. But despite the finding, Chase, Adams and House will all have to live with the emotional fallout created by a tragedy that was “nobody’s fault.”
Had there been no investigation at all things might be easier for all three (and Foreman) moving forward. Chase should never have approached the patient scalpel in hand; he simply wasn’t thinking, feeling the need to react quickly. House would have chalked it up to a no-fault, but potentially tragic, accident. He never would have attributed Chase’s decision to biopsy the patient’s rash not to defiance, but as initiative.
But, the investigation happened, and each of the three main players has to live with the consequences—decision of “nobody’s fault” or not. Adams will lose a lot of sleep wondering if her decision to ignore House in favor of her own and test the patient for invasive strep has indirectly led to Chase’s injuries. I’m sure she’ll be plagued by doubt, and perhaps lose her nerve the next time she thinks she has a better idea than her boss—even if she’s right. For the moment, Chase is dealing with the physical consequences, struggling with walking, but he, too will likely begin to wonder how much of what happened can be linked back to the way House’s team operates.
It is obvious that House is greatly affected by these events, and seeing Chase going through a painful process of learning to walk again must hit him hard. I wonder if House’s nights will be haunted by Chase’s struggle, which has to resonate with House, who (although the circumstances were different) went through a similar process a decade earlier. Several times in the episode, Cofield makes note of House’s indifference both to the patient and to Chase, wondering if anyone could possibly be that cold. But as we all know, House does care and these events will probably weigh on him harder than any of them, though outward appearances would deny it. (Consider the impact of Kutner’s suicide in season five and what it does to House compared to the rest of the team, who all eventually could move on.)