Archive May 2018 XIX, No. 5

Behind Closed Doors

Can You Spot the Site Marking?

Paula Watkins

Paula Watkins, RN, CNOR



I went to pre-op to get my patient. I read the consent: "Left carpal tunnel and release of ulnar nerve entrapment." Sounds easy enough. Descending the checklist, I initialed everything as I assessed the patient. When I came to the surgical site box, I stepped to the left of the stretcher and asked the patient if I may see his left arm. I gasped when he pulled it out from under the blanket — his arm was covered in tattoos from his wrist to his ear. I squinted as I searched for the site marking, but I couldn't make it out in the colorful camouflage of ink. "Oh, now I see it," I said after a pre-op nurse pointed to the surgeon's initials. "This is like Where's Waldo?"

Some people work harder getting out of work then actually doing any.

Don't you just love nursing slang? Some of my favorites:

  • BBL. Belly button lint. "You're gonna need a Q-tip to get that BBL out."
  • Q. Anesthetized patient with mouth open and tongue hanging out. "Oh look, he's got the Q."
  • CRI. Cranial rectum inversion. "Was your head all the way up or just half way up when you (insert lame-brained action here)?"
  • GOK. God only knows. "Is Dr. Jekyll gonna be in one of his moods again? GOK."
Sometimes it's hard to decipher a colleague's thick foreign accent. For the longest time, I thought a GYN surgeon was telling his patients to "open your ass" when he wanted them to "open your eyes."

It's not often that I get (have) to scrub. I'm more than rusty at it, I'm corroded. But one day we were short on scrub techs, so I was told to scrub in and hold a camera. My heart rate was about 180. As they say, scrubbing, gowning and gloving are like riding a unicycle. I bellied up to the draped patient and took a deep breath. Seconds after they put the camera in my hand, somebody said something funny. Laughing is annoying to others when you're holding the camera — annoying with a significant amount of motion sickness. I settled down and willed my camera-holding hand to be still. Too bad I followed up the giggles with the hiccups. Just call me Shakes.

I'm bilingual. I speak English and Southern. Don't think Southern is its own language? Go down into the Deep South. They speak a foreign language.

Some surgeons and techs are really blessed with OCD. It can be a nightmare for the circulator to get them in the same room at once, especially when there seems to be a million specimens.

"The first specimen is, get the ruler please, the first specimen is 2.3 centimeters lateral to the mass."

"The second specimen is 1.25 centimeters anterior to the first specimen with a long purple stitch marking at 12 o'clock."

"The third specimen is "

And on and on and on and on. OSM

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