Friday, July 23, 2010


And the cases are lengthy.
The residents are jumpy
And the anxiety is high.

The clock keeps on ticking
And the hours are dragging.
So hush you yapping surgeons
Let's finish by five.

(With all due apologies to George Gershwin)

Summertime, and especially July, can be a very trying and mind numbing time in the operating room.  The former surgery interns are now surgery residents. Now they can spend time in the OR actually being surgeons instead of scut monkeys.  While it's nice to see these future captains of the ship SLOWLY being molded into shape, their inexperience can be a challenge for everybody else.  A thirty minute laparoscopic appendectomy can take an hour.  A one hour lap chole becomes a four hour educational ordeal. 

I think somebody invented wifi especially for anesthesiologists to use in times like these.  While I am ever vigilant in monitoring my patients, sometimes you just don't need to stare unblinkingly at the screen every single second.  The patient is stable enough that I can set the blood pressure cuff to inflate every five minutes and not worry about sudden hemodynamic instability while the surgical resident is being taught by the attending on the proper way to hold a needle driver.  I used to walk into operating rooms where a case had just finished and find piles of used newspapers lying around the anesthesiologist's chair.  Now people use their laptops or iphone/ipad to maintain knowledge of current events.

In the last few weeks, I've personally enriched my knowledge on the lives and motivations of squirrels.  I've read with lust and longing a test drive of my dream car.  I was fascinated by the work of some of the smartest people in America (how in the world do you turn a 32 digit code into a complicated lengthy paragraph?  Even when I read an explanation I couldn't understand it.)  I read as a less than impartial viewer the lack of progress in ending the worst oil spill in America.  I followed the circus that is LeBron James.  And many other tidbits of information.

Don't worry.  During this time all my patients did fine.  By the way, for you anesthesiology residents, you don't get the same courtesy of time-consuming clinical training as the surgery residents.  You still have to learn to intubate a patient or perform a regional anesthetic as if you've been doing the work for years.  Otherwise the surgeons start complaining and the attending will take over for you.  Sorry.  Just reality.


  1. You don't mention what hardware you use. Neither iPod touch nor my Samsung smartphone can handle more than a few hours of wi-fi surfing without needing a charge. Do you have to keep a charger with you all day?

  2. Ahem. You are not implying that I'm surfing the net all day while working, are you? ;-) I bring my laptop and its charger with me to work every day since I use it to keep a record of my cases and to play music. Yes I do practice what I preach about how to be a good anesthesiologist. I carry all this in a roller bag. In the morning when all the anesthesiologists come to work, the hospital hallway can resemble LAX with all the roller bags being used.