Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge,
I'm trying not to lose my head, ah huh-huh-huh,
It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder,
How I keep from going under
Grandmaster Flash (The Message)
This weekend I lost my cool temporarily. To the staff members who had to endure the few minutes of animated lecturing, I’m sorry. I’m not proud of it, but in my defense I have to say I’ve experienced other surgeons losing their composure and my tantrum was tame in comparison.
One of those surgeons was rather notorious for making people cry in the surgical suite, to which he would respond “There is no crying in surgery” (ala Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own). I’m proud to say I never actually cried in surgery, but I will admit to tears of fury or embarrassment or whatever once outside of surgery. Anyway, some surgeons throw things. I once saw a thrown Backhaus towel clamp stuck perfectly in the wall for about 5 seconds before gravity took over. Some surgeons just scream nonsensically, while others rant in a very directed manner. Some get very silent. Honestly, the silent ones scare me the most.
I try to act professionally as much as possible. When things don’t go well in surgery (or in the hospital) I can usually stow away the frustration for another setting and keep focused. Surgery is not the place for a lecture or chew out. Get through the procedure, get the animal recovered and then convene with the team to prevent future mishaps. I even have that in our Sign Out phase of the Surgical Safety Checklist: “Any equipment or procedure problems that need to be addressed?”
So, I promise not to throw instruments, nor will I ever storm out of a surgery suite until the surgery is completed and the patient is recovered.