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Archive February 2020 XXI, No. 2

Behind Closed Doors: She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

RN ISO that warm and fuzzy feeling.

Paula Watkins

Paula Watkins, RN, CNOR



This is dedicated to the ones I’ve loved and loathed during the 30-plus years I’ve been happily married to the OR. Not everybody I’ve worked with merits candy, flowers and a touchy-feely Valentine’s Day card from Hallmark. When Cupid’s arrow misses its mark, as often it will, love indeed is a many splintered thing. Let us count the ways.


You’re not going to feel love when you’re stuck in a forever case at the end of the day with a scrub tech who doesn’t even have the basic items used on every case. To top it off, when you politely ask the scrub to help you move a heavy piece of equipment, he tells you he has his own stuff to get ready and then promptly sits down on a stool and crosses his arms across his chest. I love him not.


When you come back to work after a long vacation, you’re excited to see that the OR has undergone a mini- makeover. There’s a new fluid suction device, and a new light and camera system. But then you realize the upgrades can’t conceal the same cracked monitor, the same picture printer that doesn’t print consistently and the insufflator tubing that’s broken in the same place.


You remind the relatively new surgeon who wants to do a “small” fracture at 3 p.m. that the outpatient department closes at 6 p.m. That didn’t seem to register, so you also mention that your only C-arm as well as the fracture system he needs are both being used in another room. No problem, he says. He doesn’t need a C-arm, and he’ll use anything we have and piecemeal it together. Well guess what? He makes the incision and discovers that the patient has an implant in the leg with the “small” fracture. And that “small” fracture is actually two fractures — one above the implant and one below it. Too bad there were no X-rays for us to see.


Two doctors work together on a case that goes south very quickly and has all of us moving at the speed of a cheetah. Is it love when they both leave and sincerely tell us thank you and it was fun?


I show love for my co-workers when I request to do all the long cases with all the slow doctors. My co-workers are young and enjoy the fast movement of an ADHD surgeon. I’d rather they work with Dr. ADHD. I’ll settle for three-plus hour procedures.


Per a scrub tech’s request, the circulator calls SPD and asks for someone there to please bring a needed instrument as soon as possible. The scrub tech adds on to the request, asking for two complete instrument sets to ensure the surgeon gets the instrument he needs. Two sterile processing techs hustle to the OR with four peel packs and a cart loaded with three instrument pans. When they walk in the room, the scrub tech says, “Never mind, I found what he wants out of the pan I’ve already got.” That’s definitely not love I see in the eyes of those hard-working sterile processing techs.


We all love that surgeon who recognizes how hard we are working to get it right. Sometimes we argue about who is going to get to work his cases. He bought lunch for all of us last week from that cute little bistro down the street, but it’s not fancy meals we care about. He’s our favorite because of what he sees in us. OSM

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