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Where Are The Surgical Sponges? April 2, 2017

A few times in my lawyering career, I’ve had medical malpractice cases in which careless doctors accidentally left things in people’s bodies after cutting them open. Wires, superfluous body parts, and the ever-popular surgical sponges, to name a few.  I get that carelessness happens, but still. I’ve been known to be careless from time to time. I have a giant wad of keys, the likes of which would impress any elementary school janitor. I only actually use two of the keys and one of the key tags, but I’ve learned that if I have a giant wad of keys it is easier to keep track of.  If I just have a couple of keys, they get lost. I’ve left credit cards at restaurants, I leave my carefully packed lunch sitting on the kitchen counter, and I’ve left socks and toothbrushes in hotel rooms. 

So I get it. It’s easy to lose things.  I just think, if you’ve got a human being flayed open in front of you, that a quick inventory of the things you put in there would help you keep track of the things you took out.  If I leave my phone sitting on the bathroom counter at the gym and never see it again, I just go to Verizon and get another one. It’s semi-annoying, and may cost me a few hundred bucks, but it isn’t really a life changing thing.  Having a pair of clamps floating around my abdomen might make a bit of a bigger difference in the long run.

surgical-sponges-lori-duffI recently went to the hospital to visit a friend who had just had a baby. (Cute baby, by the way. Tiny little thing. Smells like milk and poop.) Being a lawyer, and therefore being hyper-aware of liability issues, and being a nerd who actually reads fine print, and being a humor writer who lives for finding odd things in unexpected places, I looked around the hospital room while it was someone else’s turn to hold the baby. There were two posters on the wall, warning posters, which caught my eye.  The first was a brightly colored poster titled “Where are the Sponges?” Apparently, it is easy as 1, 2, 3 to find out where the sponges are. One should inspect the sponges before they get put into someone’s body, they should be counted, and when you’re done, there should be the same number of sponges as sponge holders.  Well, that’s great, I thought. And really freaking obvious. But what good is this poster in an obscure corner of a mother and baby room?  Shouldn’t it be sterilized and hung somewhere in the operating room?  The couch it hung next to was designed for visitors like me, people most unlikely to leave sponges inside of their friends.

But that’s not all. Someone somewhere decided that telling someone with seven years of post-secondary educationsurgical-sponges-lori-duff how to count in 3 easy steps was not sufficiently complicated. Another, bright yellow poster was hung next to the first one.  It had several different checklists for different people – surgeons and nurses, and gets more technical about x-rays and additional help, but really comes down to the same basic advice: count.  What goes in, must come out.  One should, as the poster advises, “Pause for the Gauze.”

Again – great advice! But how many surgeons are standing in a back corner of the mother-and-baby rooms to get surgical advice? And how many surgeons have you met that would think for ten seconds that a poster could teach them anything?

Mainly I’m concerned that this is a big enough problem that it deserves cutesy posters placed all over the universe like so many handwashing signs.  I saw more don’t-leave-sponges-in-people’s-bodies posters in the hospital than I’ve seen anti-bullying or drunk driving posters in my son’s high school. 

I’m not sure what my point is, other than that I found the placement and existence of these posters entertaining in my weird, twisted little way.  But, you know what they say: A Poster A Day Keeps the Lawyers Away.  And no one likes to see lawyers coming.*

 

*Except people who need help.  Make all the lawyer jokes you want, but seriously – who is the first person you call when the poop hits the spinning fan blades? You don’t have to like us, but you do need us.

If you enjoyed this and want to read more like it, visit Lori  on Twitter or on Facebook. For the Best of Lori, read her books, “Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza,” “The Armadillo, the Pickaxe, and the Laundry Basket,” and her latest release, “You Know I Love You Because You’re Still Alive.”

 

Lori B. Duff is the author of the Amazon ‘Hot New Release’ Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza, a collection of autobiographical humor essays. The hard copy of the book can be found on Amazon & BarnesandNoble.com and select local retailers. The e-book can be found here. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here.

Where Are The Surgical Sponges?

3 Comments

  1. Ernie

    This is hilarious and very odd. I agree these posters might better serve the public by being placed somewhere logical. Makes me wonder if a hospital administrator celebrated ‘bring your kid to work day’ by handing said kid a stack of posters and some tape and patting him on the head as he ran off to ‘help mom/dad’ by hanging posters around the hospital.

    Reply

    • Lori Duff

      That would explain it! It really was odd……..the placement of the posters, that is.

      Reply

  2. Linda Schaub

    Lori – I am personally offended to go into a restaurant and see signs for the staff to wash their hands – you don’t know to do this without a sign? Yikes! Last week I heard on the news that more and more patients are not having anesthesia because they want to be aware of what is happening during their surgery and the doctors state they can no longer say things like “oops” or talk about the patient. When my mom had her last hip replacement surgery (actually it was a “revision”) it was a major operation, much riskier and a longer procedure than a hip replacement. She opted for “light” anesthesia. She said she could hear the saws, the cracking of pulling out the old prosthesis and freaked out and asked for full anesthesia ASAP. This was a woman who had had over 40 orthopedic operations in her lifetime after being hit by a car at age 11. Sure glad I’m not having surgery soon after reading this interesting post. Scary stuff in our world today!

    Reply

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Where Are The Surgical Sponges?

3 Comments

  1. Ernie

    This is hilarious and very odd. I agree these posters might better serve the public by being placed somewhere logical. Makes me wonder if a hospital administrator celebrated ‘bring your kid to work day’ by handing said kid a stack of posters and some tape and patting him on the head as he ran off to ‘help mom/dad’ by hanging posters around the hospital.

    Reply

    • Lori Duff

      That would explain it! It really was odd……..the placement of the posters, that is.

      Reply

  2. Linda Schaub

    Lori – I am personally offended to go into a restaurant and see signs for the staff to wash their hands – you don’t know to do this without a sign? Yikes! Last week I heard on the news that more and more patients are not having anesthesia because they want to be aware of what is happening during their surgery and the doctors state they can no longer say things like “oops” or talk about the patient. When my mom had her last hip replacement surgery (actually it was a “revision”) it was a major operation, much riskier and a longer procedure than a hip replacement. She opted for “light” anesthesia. She said she could hear the saws, the cracking of pulling out the old prosthesis and freaked out and asked for full anesthesia ASAP. This was a woman who had had over 40 orthopedic operations in her lifetime after being hit by a car at age 11. Sure glad I’m not having surgery soon after reading this interesting post. Scary stuff in our world today!

    Reply

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Lori Duff

Lori B. Duff is the author of the Amazon ‘Hot New Release’ Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza, a collection of autobiographical humor essays. The hard copy of the book can be found on Amazon & BarnesandNoble.com and select local retailers. The e-book can be found here. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here.

Where Are The Surgical Sponges? April 2, 2017

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