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Behind Closed Doors
Little White Lies Surgeons and Staff Tell
Paula Watkins
Publish Date: October 10, 2007   |  Tags:   Opinion

Paula Watkins, RN, CNOR What happens behind closed OR doors usually stays there. Unless we nurses bring it up in the staff lounge. Or at happy hour. Or in the pages of a magazine. Here's a list of the top 20 fibs, fabrications and falsehoods I've heard in the OR, as well as their translations for those of you who don't own an OR-to-English dictionary.

Paula Watkins, RN, CNOR\ 20. Staff: Oh, that? Well ... it's on back order. Translation: Someone forgot to order it. But it wasn't me.

19. Supervisor: If you'll just stay and start this case, I promise to have you out by 1500. Translation: I won't remember this and won't think about you until tomorrow, when I need you to stay over again.

18. Surgeon: I shouldn't lose much blood on this. Translation: Better type and cross for two units.

17. Surgeon: This is only going to be a little 30-minute case. Translation: This surgeon couldn't cut toenails in 30 minutes.

16. Staff: Can I borrow this? Dr. Hyper Al needs it right now. I'll bring it right back, I promise. Translation: Getting this particular item was the last thing on my mind and he is going to chew my face off if it's not in the room. By the way, you'll never see it again. Once my derriere is out of the sling, I'll forget where this came from. You know me, I don't put anything back.

15. Staff: Could I please go on a break? You shouldn't have any problems. Everything is ready and in the room, and I'll be right back. Translation: Not so much. The packs aren't open, only half the instruments are sterile and the thing-a-ma-jig he always uses is down the hall in some corner. Besides, I don't want to do this case, so I'll probably try to get sent to relieve someone somewhere else. Anywhere but this room.

14. Surgeon: It's hot in here, what's the thermostat on? Call maintenance. Get some air in here; I'm sweating. These instruments aren't working. Get me some help. Translation: I am in deep doo-doo.

13. Surgeon: Sorry I'm late. (This is extremely rare - how often do you hear, "I'm sorry"?) Translation: I have all day, and you're getting paid to wait on me.

12. Surgeon: I got tied up at another hospital. Translation: I was late for my 0730 case, which made me late getting to this case.

11. Staff: We don't have that kind of suture/ instrument/equipment here. Translation: OK, I don't really know if we have it or not. I'm sick of this case. Please don't make me get up again to look for something else you think you want. Besides, by the time I get it in here, you know you'll have changed your mind or forgotten about it.

Paula Watkins, RN, CNO\R 10. Staff: These are the only sizes we have. Translation: I have run my tail off for you during this case. You have everything in here but the hopper. I have six sizes already in this room. Can't you just pick one of those?

9. Supervisor: Due to budget cuts, this year we will only be able to give you a 1-percent raise. Translation: The new landscaping at the front of the hospital cost more than we had planned.

8. Surgeon: I'm in the parking lot. Put the patient to sleep. Translation: Guess which parking lot and at which hospital.

7. Staff: That instrument wasn't in the pan when we opened it. Translation: Oops, it's probably in the trash. It broke when I was trying to pry open that pan. I hope the trash is where that missing part is.

6. Surgeon: I need to do this case as soon as possible. Patient is on the way to the ER. Call me when you're ready. Translation: Patient is in the office. I'll be there when I finish clinic around 5 or 6 o'clock, probably more like 7. I might want to eat first. I just want to make sure there's a room available when I'm ready.

5. Staff: Yes, sir, we'll put that on your preference card. Translation: Someone will get around to putting it on your preference card. Maybe. Possibly. Eventually.

4. Staff: I called the rep. I'm sure he's on his way. Wait, let me go call him again. Translation: Oh, man! I forgot to call the rep. Who is the rep anyway?

3. Staff: The room took longer to turn over. We were ready. We've been waiting on anesthesia. We tried to page you. Translation: If we get in too much of a hurry, we'll be finished early, and they'll stick us with another case.

2. Surgeon: The history and physical was dictated last night. Translation: I know they'll never buy that, but it gives me time to write one up while they're calling the dictation system to find it.

1. Surgeon: I do all my cases the same way every time. Just give me what I need. Translation: He never does anything the same way any time, except be consistently late. And what he needs is a quick lobotomy with a large-bore drill bit.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go. I have to call to tell them I won't be at work today. I have a flat tire, my electricity is off, my car won't start, I can't get the garage door up and I have a sick child - again.

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