We hang an image of the American flag on the OR door to alert the surgical team that the patient is a combat veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These patients might react violently to sudden sound, light or unfamiliar environmental changes, and could place themselves and our caregivers in harm’s way. The flag reminds the entire perioperative team, from admission to discharge, to focus on creating a supportive, quiet environment.
That’s Eric Gonzales, CST, one of our surgical technologists, in the photo. Eric, who was awarded a Purple Heart while serving on the U.S. Army Forward Surgical Team, came up with this idea. Many active and retired military veterans call the Tri-Cities region home in southeast Washington. Eric and other military veterans in our department introduce themselves and ask to be assigned to PTSD sufferers. They offer these patients the support that only a fellow veteran could.
Roshelle Satterthwait, RN, MHSA, CNOR, CENP
Kadlec Regional Medical Center