Etiquette for Shadowing in the OR

16 Nov

My First OR Experience

Yesterday I had the privilege to stand in on a procedure in the local hospital’s OR. It was a great learning experience, not in a medical knowledge sense, but definitely in a medical etiquette sense.

Things to remember in the OR:

1. Don’t touch the blue stuff…ever…no matter how shiny it might be!
2. Always ask where to stand. No, at the surgeon’s side is not usually best.
3. You will be amazed at the amount of gauze and covers used to keep the patient as sterile as possible. And yeah, it all gets thrown away afterward. Surgery is not for the “tree hugger” types. 😛
4. Things will get messy sometimes. (More gruesome details to come possibly in a later post!)
5. People look funny inside. Not at all like Gray’s Anatomy text shows it. There’s bumps and wierd thingys hanging oddly. (I’m sure the Doc knows all about it though. Resist the urge to shout that you see something odd and send the OR team into a slight panic. :P)
6. The OR is nothing like on TV. The lights are all on(no one works in the dark with only the operating lights on) and there are not always fancy monitors everywhere.

Remember: DON’T PANIC!

Be polite and respect the fact that you’re being allowed to observe something that many will never get a chance to watch first hand. Try to ask some semi-intelligent questions after the procedure is done if you get the chance. You might find you click with the doctor and get invited to another procedure. Overall I gotta say “It’s an AWESOME experience!” I can only hope to see some more soon.


Posted by on November 16, 2010 in Volunteer


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7 responses to “Etiquette for Shadowing in the OR

  1. Rishi

    November 18, 2010 at 3:09 am

    That’s so awesome! What kind of surgery did you see? Haha, about that gauze… I remember one operation I saw where everything was finished, but before screwing back on the patient’s skull, we had to take inventory of everything that was used. There was one piece of gauze missing. It took a solid ten minutes to find it… under an RN’s shoe. The surgeon was not pleased. 🙂

    • Flustered Grad

      November 18, 2010 at 10:20 am

      Haha. All that searching for the gauze to be under someone’s shoe. No wonder that surgeon was pissed! I got to watch the repairing/correction of a psudoaneurysm in a patient’s upper arm.

  2. PGYx

    March 10, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    The same loose canon surgeon who stuck me with a HCV-contaminated solid needle lost a sponge (basically a piece of gauze-like material) in a patient’s abdomino-pelvic cavity. He found it after a long search, but not before he openly and loudly accused a very tiny older Filipino scrub nurse of discarding the gauze before it could be counted. I have never in my adult life heard a person roar so loudly.

    I remember being afraid to ask if it could possibly be in the lower pelvis, which is where he found it just as the X-ray tech was about to shoot an X-ray to find the metal impregnated sponge. I wished I’d spoken up b/c the surgeon ended up essentially disemboweling the patient three times in his search, which isn’t something the enteric nervous system appreciates.

    • Flustered Grad

      March 10, 2011 at 9:23 pm

      Aww. Poor scrub nurse! Your surgeon sounds really mean! 😦 I really don’t like people that yell a lot. So far all the surgeons I’ve seen have been pretty nice and polite both in and out of the OR. The spinal surgeon was a little short with his scrub nurse sometimes when she failed to get things quickly enough. It might have been because she was new though since she had another nurse there talking her through things when she hesitated.

  3. PGYx

    March 10, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    This guy was pretty crazy and not at all typical of the other surgeons with whom I worked. The others have been either just fine or awesome. It is unquestionably the scrub nurse’s job to get the surgeon the right tool in an at times superhumanly fast manner. The only other times I heard surgeons yell involved lapses in patient safety. I recall thinking that I would have yelled, too, and I’m not a yeller.

    • Flustered Grad

      March 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm

      Yeah, you’re right about that. I guess when your job and focus is the patient’s safety, and that is not being met, you can get cut a little slack for being curt or yelling.


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