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Seems surgeons are as bad as nurses at the simple stuff

It's not just the nurses that have trouble with simple things, like counting and left and right. Our esteemed surgeon colleagues are just as bad. And far more dangerous.

It's not just the nurses that have trouble with simple things, like counting and left and right. Our esteemed surgeon colleagues are just as bad. And far more dangerous.



One of my pet nursey wind ups has been my insistence that they, along with Red Indians, Aborigines and Eskimos (or whatever their politically correct euphemisms are these days) cannot count beyond the number 3.

Whether it's the number of patients to be seen on a nursing home ward round or the number of minutes it will take to "have a quick look at this patient" it's one, two, three, er, more.

Whenever I mention this hypothesis in print nurses who can read ask those who can write to send me letters expressing their displeasure, thus demonstrating an additional inability to manage proper joined up lower case handwriting or to find a pen containing blue or black ink (see below).


Such is the joyous banter that flies back and forth between the medical humour columnist and the nursing constituency.

I can only hope beyond reason that the nurses who can read didn't catch sight of the front page of the Independent while they were picking up their copy of the Daily Mail the other day. Because if they did they've got some serious ammunition to load up for use in future exchanges.

In situations where surgeons have to make a simple left/right choice, distracted messrs FRCS are frequently performing operations on the wrong side.

Knee replacements on the wrong knee, cochlear implants in the wrong ear.

Even neurosurgeons, whose skills and talents border on the legendary, have drilled holes in the wrong side of their patients' head on fourteen occasions in the last three years.

Unless your patient's booked in for a procedure that doesn't involve a left/right choice (nose job, circumcision, prostatectomy etc) then it might be prudent to lend them your Magic Marker and get them to draw a really big arrow on their skin pointing to the painful bit and labelled, "This is the side that hurts."

And tell them it's for the nurses' benefit, obviously.

Copperfield

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