How many people does it take to perform a one hour day surgery operation? Well, if my experience yesterday is any indication, the number hovers around an even dozen, not counting the information desk and the parking attendant. It seems that every time I would look up, someone new was introducing themselves and asking me to tell them my date of birth.
We were scheduled to arrive at 7:30 AM. We arrived early as we suspected I would not be walking too steadily upon departure, so we requested valet parking. We then proceeded to the Day Surgery section on the second floor, sharing an elevator with a guy wheeling a cart containing a ladder and assorted power tools. I casually commented that I would hate to be the guy he was going to operate on. He chuckled and my wife gave me ‘the look’.
Arriving at reception we were about fifteen minutes early and found out that was not a good thing. The registration clerk does not start until 7:30, and, looking into the waiting room, it was apparent she was not going to be very busy. After check in, i.e., what is your DOB, here’s a bracelet for your wrist, please have a seat, I was soon summoned by a CNA who weighed me, requested my DOB, and escorted me to a room to change into my johnny gown and lay down on the bed.
Next, two nurses entered the room, wheeling in an impressive display of stainless steel paraphernalia. While one set about asking a lot of technical questions like DOB, the other began to hook me up to blood pressure monitors, a heart monitor, pressure boots on my legs to encourage blood flow to the heart, an intravenous feed, and a bag of solution. They even labeled my glasses. Having run out of exposed tissue areas, they waived a cheery hi-ho and left, to be followed closely by the return of the CNA who, now that I was properly restrained, advised me that they would like me to go to the restroom one last time. I was not opposed to this, however, since she was carrying the IV solution bag, I was a little curious how this whole thing was going to go down. Turns out they have a hook in there.
After returning to my bed, my wife was summoned to come sit with me as this was the ‘hurry up and wait’ phase we were told. Maybe as much as an hour or so. So we settled in in anticipation of an extended down time. But it was not to be. In about ten minutes, another CNA arrived, asked for my DOB and advised she would be wheeling me to anesthesia, whereupon we embarked upon a gurney trip that was akin to navigating the Holland Tunnel, only with more curves.
In anesthesia another nurse confirmed my name, DOB and further prepared me for the operation, shortly to be joined by a nurse that not only asked my DOB, but also asked what I was having done today. I refrained from answering “my nails” since she would be assisting in the OR. No use making them testy. She was followed closely by the Anesthesiologist who confirmed my DOB and checked all my vitals, concluding I was good to go.
Next, another nurse who turned out to be the Anesthesiologists assistant and the only one that didn’t care what my DOB was, advised me that her name was Roberta and I should be able to remember that since my name was Robert, a fact that I had digested years ago. In retrospect, I don’t know why she wanted me to know that since the next time we would meet, I would be asleep.
Shortly, my doctor showed up, looked over my charts and said they would be ready for me shortly and left. Apparently he cared less about when I was born then he did about when I might die and dropped the bomb that, when I woke up, I would probably have a catheter. “Did I mention that before” he asked. Just a little issue. No big deal. Sure.
Finally, another nurse arrived and, after checking my DOB, wheeled me into the operating room, consuming I don’t know how much time, until I woke up back in my room and, upon regaining my faculties, realized it was now 11:45. I had been told the operation would take about an hour. What the hell happened?
The rest of my visit was pretty routine. Removing the machinery, instruction on the catheter, inviting my wife back, pigging out on a jello, and finally, being allowed to get dressed, whereupon another CNA came with a wheelchair to dump me at the curb.
At last it was over. Quite an eventful day. I met more people then at a church social and now have some questions regarding what I read about under staffing. If they were short of resources, it certainly wasn’t apparent. But I do have one suggestion. Perhaps they could hire an entry level medical assistant, provide them with a scanner, and charge them with the express responsibility of checking everyone’s DOB upon entry and again upon release, in case it had changed over the course of the day. Remember that bracelet they gave me at reception? It has a bar code that contains my name and DOB. Maybe they could just use that. Just sayin!