Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Surgeons, Nurses, Techs, Cleaning Crew....Anesthesiologists

I was trying to console an anesthesiologist colleague the other day. He was infuriated by how anesthesiologists are treated in our operating rooms. He showed up for work as scheduled for a 7:00 AM start. But once he got to the OR, he was told that the surgeon had rescheduled his case for noon. Nobody bothered to notify him about the change of plans. Of course all the nurses and other OR staff except him were aware of the late start. So now here he is at 7:00 with nothing to do until 12:00. Incensed, irritated, exasperated, and pissed off doesn't even begin to describe his emotions at that moment.

Why is it that we have an MD behind our names and are supposedly an integral member of the OR team yet we are treated so indifferently? This scenario happens more often than I can count. The surgeon will change his start time or cancel a case. Then the OR manager will notify the nurse not to open a room and reassign her to a different room. Then they will tell the OR tech not to open any instruments since the case has changed. Then they may or may not get around to telling the anesthesiologist about the case switch. There have been far too many times where I've gone into my assigned room and started preparing for a case when somebody walks in and tells me, "Oh, didn't anybody tell you? The case has been cancelled." (Slow burning rage begins to rise from my gut.)

Is there anything we can do about this inconsideration towards anesthesiologists? I'd certainly like to hear if other anesthesiologists are routinely treated like an afterthought. What did my friend do that morning when he unintentionally arrived five hours early for his case? He got on the phone with the surgeon and notified him that unless the case started within one hour he was leaving and he will have no anesthesiologists available for his case. The surgeon changed his schedule and brought the patient to the OR early. Quite astonishing my colleague was able to pull that off but nevertheless mucho kudos for him. Bravo.

1 comment:

  1. I had a similar experience. I was in during the Xmas slowdown to do the elective C/S. I did one, went downstairs to have coffee, an hour passed (turnovers are very slow in our OB OR). Finally I phoned upstairs, "Are we going to start any time?". "Oh the surgeon decided to go to her office and we are starting at 1 o'clock." "And you were going to tell me about this?".
    At 1245 walking upstairs I run into the surgical assistant. "What a pain having to wait around," I said. "O, they told me they weren't going until 1", he replied!
    So the surgical assistant is notified, the anesthesiologist not.