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Behind Closed Doors
It's Not My Fault!
Paula Watkins
Publish Date: October 10, 2007   |  Tags:   Opinion

My co-worker Bird asked me if I was going to write something about fireworks for the July issue of this magazine. Well, not directly. But a conversation with my friend Haley about some recent sparks and flames around the OR put those incidents into perspective.

There are times when everyone feels the need to blame something or someone for the mess they're in. It makes no difference if you're on the nursing staff, in the management offices or performing the surgery, it's a natural reaction to want to shift the responsibility for errors to anyone but yourself. Just keep in mind that it's not always the truth. From any of us to all of us, here's a list of grievances.

It's not my fault:

  • That you didn't have a single clue as to what equipment, instruments or supplies the surgeon wanted for a procedure and, therefore, something wasn't in the room when he asked for it.
  • That even though the table has been lowered as close to the floor as it'll go, you still need two stepstools to see what's going on.
  • That you nicked something important in there, though you'll note I'm running everywhere and calling everyone to help you fix this calamity.
  • That the anesthesia provider is missing in action, so we're late going to the room.
  • That the materials manager doesn't special order that "little blue thing" you like anymore. And, no, it's not going to be on hand for any of your next few cases unless you raise Cain with Mr. I'm-in-Charge-of-Supplies-Here.
  • That I have to ask you seven times to repeat what you think you want. You're mumbling and I can't read your lips because they're behind your mask.
  • That I can't figure out what you want solely from your hand signals, which, frankly, resemble neurological spasms. My nursing school didn't offer Surgeon Sign Language 101.
  • That you don't realize that your "the same way I do it every time" is never the same way, anytime.
  • That we can't run three rooms on a weekend for the convenience of your semi-emergent lap chole.
  • That we have to operate in the room that isn't "your favorite." We're trying to keep you on schedule after you showed up 30 minutes late.
  • That the anesthesia provider is waging a personal thermostat war and has jacked it up on her own. Hey, we're all sweating like pigs here.
  • That you want a second room, but you also have to have this table that your current patient is currently lying on.
  • That your handwriting is so bad it resembles a second grader's when he's using his non-dominant hand.
  • That you spent the time you should have been setting up a room flirting with the new young surgeon from the other OR. Or that your assigned surgeon chewed you out when you finally got to his room.
  • That someone in management actually got wise and assigned you to a room with a surgeon that's actually going to require you to work.

I've got to say, after 27 years of nursing, only the names, faces and places change. The blame, however, remains the same.