Quote from Athlein1
There are moments when I really wonder what the heck I am doing this for, and then there are days like today when I want to get in my car and drive back to my old hospital and get my bedside nursing job back!
I would appreciate any advice on how best to work effectively with surgeons, especially those that have a clear preference for an MDA at the head of the table and/or intolerance for having students. I had a situation today in which I became the "whipping boy" for the surgeons and their intra-op difficulties. Patient was doing fine, hemodynamically stable. Absolutely no patient detriment. But preceptor was at lunch and surgeons felt I was in over my head and were very angry about it. I have already been told that, "it's always anesthesia's fault", but any insight from more experienced folks would be gladly accepted. What do you do? Apologize later? Let it go? Hide behind the drape and hope they forget about it?
The surgeon-anesthesia relationship can be an odd one. And one I didn't even consider before I went to school...
Unfortunately, students have always gotten abused to a certain extent, and anesthesia gets blamed for everything all the time. If you haven't worked in the OR prior to starting anesthesia training, it's surprising the level of verbal abuse (and sexual innuendo) that gets tossed around. Make sure you differentiate between legitimate complaining (possible, right?) and truly abusive actions by the surgeon (still far too common in the OR).
If it's something I've done and know it, I usually apologize immediately. I probably wouldn't seek them out later since half the time they don't remember an hour later what irritated them in the first place. My favorite response to surgeons, often used when they consider muscle relaxation to be inadequate, is "Anesthesia makes surgery possible, not easy". Sometimes they laugh, sometimes they don't. That's their problem.
If you experience what you consider to be truly abusive behavior (verbal or physical), make sure you file an incident report with the appropriate department of the hospital, and keep a copy for yourself. In our facility, such complaints get referred to our medical staff office, which takes it very seriously. If you have a risk management department, that's a good place for those complaints to go as well. Buzzwords such as "hostile work environment" and "sexual harassment" carry some weight. Hospitals that ignore repeated instances of bad physician behavior run the risk of lawsuits filed under federal law, directed at the hospital for ignoring or tolerating the abuse. They don't want to go down that road. I know of surgeons who have had to undergo mandatory anger management therapy and sensitivity training. If they don't comply, they lose their privileges, plain and simple. And by all means - physical abuse should never be tolerated. Criminal complaints for assault and battery have also been used against abusive surgeons.