Archive June 2017 XVIII, No. 6

Behind Closed Doors: Slight Exaggerations

Surgical sayings that stretch the truth just a bit.

crossed fingers

Surgery has its own set of sayings that exaggerate the truth. We hear these time and again. Here's what you're left with when you peel back the fiction from the fact.

Scrub: "Go get the patient. I'm ready."
So you do. But when you come back, your scrub says she needs at least a dozen things. Mind you, she's still scrubbed in, arms crossed and seated on a stool. It would take her all of 5 minutes to cleanse her hands, re-gown and glove after getting the items she's wanting me to get. (Never mind that I'm trying to position our 300-plus-pound patient on a surfboard-size bed.)

"No cell phones allowed in the OR."
Your tech has one, the anesthesia provider has one (plus an iPad), the industry rep has one and the surgeon has 2 phones.

"Staffing is going to get better. We have 2 more travelers coming next week."
Mmm, great! But what about the 2 full-time nurses that left last Friday? The 2 out for maternity leave? And the new one that's still wet behind the ears?

Patient: "Just knock me out."
If only we could for some.

Patient: "I'm allergic to all pain medication except Dilaudid."
All the others make you itch and want to throw your guts up, right? But I bet you can tell me exactly the strength and how often you should get Dilaudid.

Surgeon: "My next case is a carpal tunnel. I need a fast turnover."
So taking a bonbon break after this 4-hour case with 20 3000-liter bags of saline and almost as many blankets on the floor is not a good idea?

Surgeon: "Why did the turnover on my case take so long?"
We can talk about no H&P, no orders, or you going MIA, leaving those 2 devil phones of yours on the desk in the OR you just scampered out of.

Surgeon: "It's my card. I do it the same way every time always."
I'm sure it is and somewhere over the rainbow, you think you do, but I don't work with you all the time (thanks be to the OR gods) and there is no card for this procedure.

Surgeon: "Where's Mary? Get Mary. She always knows what I need and how to do my cases."
The nurse's name is Marty, and she hasn't worked here in 5 years.

Surgeon: "I'm going to stop coming here. You never have what I need or know what you're doing."
If we could only be that lucky. Last we heard, this is the only hospital left in town where you still have privileges.

Anesthesiologist: "Where's the blood pressure cuff? The leads aren't on the patient. Here, put the pulse ox on. Hold the mask on."
Let's see: You're the anesthesia provider. I'm just the circulator.

Surgeon: "Paula and I have a strange and wonderful relationship — she's strange and I'm wonderful."
One of my favorite orthopedic surgeons would say that to a patient every time I circulated for him. It was the same joke every time. If I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times. For some reason though, I always laughed. OSM

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