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I fainted today in OR:(

Posted

Hi,

I need some help/advise/encouragement.. something:(

I had I my first OR observation today. vasovasostomy. Not 5 minutes into the procedure I started feeling dizzy. So I stepped back to sat down on a chair. I kinda knew what was gonna happen so I closed my eyes and I tried soooo hard to relax.. but when I opened my eyes, I found myself on the flood surronded by nurses. I was so embarrassed and no matter how many times they tried to assure me that this is common, I am still embarrassed.. I was sent home...sigh

I have never been squeamish around blood. I'm currently a junior and this was my second time fainting. First time was last year when I was watching my instructor demonstrating sterile dressing change on a mannequin. I wasn't grossed out or anything. It wasn't even real blood!! It just happened!

Is this something I will eventually become desensitized to? Should I look for nursing field that does not involve blood? I love nursing so much but is nursing right for me?

I cannot tell you the number of stories I have heard of people who fainted or threw up their first OR experience! Offhand I can tell you I heard fainting/vomiting stories from 2 doctors, a midwife, a CRNA, and a handful of nurses who passed out (only one I remember that threw up) their first time. Look at it this way, at least you knew it was coming and didn't fall into the sterile field or anything :up:

I'm sorry it happened...I know some things are hard to swallow even if people reassure you that you're not the first and certainly won't be the last to do it! (((hugs)))

Don't worry about it at all. It happens to everyone, and sometimes in the most unexpected places. I am not squeamish all. I have put in many IVs. The other night I was at clinical, was trying to start an IV and was having a hard time with it and suddenly I almost passed out. The room was warm, I felt dizzy and had to sit down. NEVER happened before in any situation and this one wasn't even bloody or gross or anything! Your body sometimes does weird things. I was talking to a med school resident the other day. He said EVERY student in his class at one point either fainted or almost fainted during a surgery.

mirandaaa

Specializes in PCT, RN. Has 3 years experience.

A couple of fainting spells aren't anything to be too worried over (but perhaps being an OR nurse wouldn't be for you!).

A long time ago when my mom was in nursing school, she told me that it was the very last semester and one of the girls in her class just straight left during a knee surgery because she couldn't handle it. And by left, I mean totally left the nursing program. All that time, blood, sweat, and tears spent on nursing school and she quit the last semester because she couldn't handle the knee surgery.

The OR can be very stomach-turning, so don't be too upset about it! You'll do fine.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 43 years experience.

Hmmm... I think you should take some time to think if there is any specific reason you fainted. The fact that the first time was in a learning lab with no real blood makes me wonder if there is some other reason you fainted and it was not the site of blood that caused it.

Some people do faint at the sight of blood -- even in small amounts -- and they don't get over it. If that is the case for you, then yes, maybe you should rethink your career. Have you been exposed to blood in the past and not fainted? If so, then maybe the blood is not the issue.

Could it be blood pressure -- postural hypotension? Were you standing very still, with you knees "locked", and were you tense all over during both of these fainting incidents? Sometimes, standing very still for a long period of time causes a decreased blood flow to the brain. Think back to those incidents and to other similar events in your life. Could it be that your blood pressure dipped and that's what caused you to faint? If that's the case, moving around a bit, keeping the blood flowing, etc. could help you.

Had you eaten breakfast both mornings? Sometimes when peopel don't eat breakfast, their blood sugar dips and they get a little woozy when they have to stand on their feet for a long time.

In short, don't assume that it was the sight of blood that caused you to faint. Think it through and consider other possibilities -- ones that you might be able to do something about.

I can't even count the number of people I have seen pass out in the OR. The sights, smells, noise etc can be overwhelming.

I scrub cases every week and just a couple months ago I had to tell the surgeon to hold on for a quick second so I could catch my breath when an odor hit me. The staff gave me a hard time in a good natured way. Everyone has been there.

If you get a chance to see another surgery take it and let the circulator know that you passed out last time. That way they will keep a close eye on you.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 15 years experience.

If you have another OR observation later in your clinicals, you may find this thread helpful: https://allnurses.com/operating-room-nursing/soooo-youre-observing-142748.html

Especially this part:

A couple of tips and such to help:

Misc. Rules:

  • Eat a good breakfast that morning. I don't mean an energy bar, i mean eggs, sausage, OJ and toast.
  • Don't lock your knees while watching. Step around a little bit, even if you don't have much room to move.
  • If you feel weak, step out. If you're in a total joint room and aren't "allowed" to leave, at least sit down. And if you are allowed to leave a TJ room, chances are you can't come back in, because of infection control.
  • If the smell is overwhelming (and there's a high possibility of this), bring alcohol swabs with you. Poke one inside of your mask when needed. VapoRub inside of the mask has the same effect, but the alcohol swabs are everywhere.

It's definitely not unheard of for nursing students or anyone else observing in the OR to faint. Heck, I've even had a medical resident faint in the OR who was then brought into the preop area and had an IV started (attending took care of the orders). Not necessarily time to rethink your career if this is only an isolated incident, but you may want to take it into account when choosing what type of nursing to work in.

Hey! When I was in my second semester we had to observe in the OR. I was super excited and really looking forward to watching the procedures. The facility that we observed at happened to be at the same facility that I had had a surgical procedure done at a few years ago.. and my first surgery to observe happened to be the same procedure (not identical, but very close) and performed by the same surgeon that did mine!!! :snurse:

Initially I was fine, and the nurse asked if I would like to come up to the head of the patient to observe closer. So I did.. Then all of a sudden I started feeling flushed, and the mask was on my face and I was sweating.. I remember looking at the clock and thinking.. this is at least a 4-5 hour procedure.. I have to pee! The nurse looked at me and asked if I wanted to sit down and I declined.. saying I was fine and not to worry... Next thing I remember I was hunched over and she was rubbing my back trying to wake me up.

They carted me out and hooked me up to a pulse ox and BP in the PACU. I was mortified. EVERYONE kept telling me how common it was, but I was so embarrassed. Even the anesthesiologist told me a story about his first time!

It's funny because I have no problems with seeing stuff now. I think it actually made me a little stronger.. maybe I just needed to get it out of my system? I did hear that the next student that came in the following week was asked by the surgeon if he/she was going to faint like last weeks student.. lol, otherwise, no harm done.

I think you will become desensitized to it like I feel I have. There are a lot of options you can look at with nursing, so keep doing what you are doing..

Edited by Jenniferocious
horrible job at paragraphs

classicdame, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

I worked with a world famous surgeon who confessed to me once that he fainted in medical school TWICE. Once during surgery and another time attending a childbirth. Knowing him, he probably did not eat, but it can happen to anyone

HouTx, BSN, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

Hey, I'm hypervagal - first fainting episodes as a small child after even the smallest bump or injury. Other than scaring my poor parents & bystanders, there was no harm done. Every time I received a vaccination, I swooned (love that word, makes it sound like I'm all girly and fragile, doncha think?) even though I was absolutely not afraid of the shot itself. I was the bane of school nurses. By the time I was 10 or so, I could anticipate & take some preventative measures that sometimes worked. Mostly putting my head down below the level of my heart. However, I can tell you from experience that this position also makes it super-easy to just somersault out of the chair if you do lose consciousness - LOL.

I still vagal with seemingly minor triggers such as vomiting or any type of sharp pain. My family is used to it. Healthcare providers, not so much although nurses are much better than folks like the resident who tried to draw ABGs - luckily I had warned the nurse so he didn't have a chance to shoot me full of Atropine when I went brady and passed out.

In nursing school, I discovered that my patient care 'swoons' were triggered by empathy with (what I imagined to be) the patient's suffering - but this lessened over time. I didn't have any issues if the patient was anesthetized or pain-free during the procedure. By the time I graduated, I could even assist with a debridement and not experience any problems.

I'm sure you will 'grow out of it'. It's not a deal breaker.

During nursing school we had an OR rotation and I was super excited. It was an early morning clinical so I skipped breakfast (bad idea). I was running around with the OR nurse for the first two hours, getting the pre op paper work and prepping the Pt. 15 mins into the actual surgery I passed out. I was sitting on a stool next to the surgeon. I woke up on the OR floor, looked up and I see the surgeon laughing while still operating, and he says "are you ok? don't worry you are not the first one". I was so embarrassed! But the staff was great. I got some OJ and a sandwich. Went on to see two more surgeries without passing out. Moral of the story? Don't skip breakfast!!!

Hey, I'm hypervagal - first fainting episodes as a small child after even the smallest bump or injury. Other than scaring my poor parents & bystanders, there was no harm done. Every time I received a vaccination, I swooned (love that word, makes it sound like I'm all girly and fragile, doncha think?) even though I was absolutely not afraid of the shot itself. I was the bane of school nurses. By the time I was 10 or so, I could anticipate & take some preventative measures that sometimes worked. Mostly putting my head down below the level of my heart. However, I can tell you from experience that this position also makes it super-easy to just somersault out of the chair if you do lose consciousness - LOL.

I still vagal with seemingly minor triggers such as vomiting or any type of sharp pain. My family is used to it. Healthcare providers, not so much although nurses are much better than folks like the resident who tried to draw ABGs - luckily I had warned the nurse so he didn't have a chance to shoot me full of Atropine when I went brady and passed out.

In nursing school, I discovered that my patient care 'swoons' were triggered by empathy with (what I imagined to be) the patient's suffering - but this lessened over time. I didn't have any issues if the patient was anesthetized or pain-free during the procedure. By the time I graduated, I could even assist with a debridement and not experience any problems.

I'm sure you will 'grow out of it'. It's not a deal breaker.

I am too! Are your pupils abnormally large/dilated like mine are?

I used to faint over nothing when I was a child- if I banged my funny bone, got too hot, or something poked into me around my ribs. I learned after a while to just get down on the floor when it's coming. It's gotten so much better as I get older though. I still get ringing ears and spotty vision if I bump my elbow or something, but I can usually shake it off.

I have only come close to fainting one time, but luckily it didn't happen - so sorry it happened to you! I would have been mortified as well.

BirkieGirl

Has 25 years experience.

sounds like you may have a vasovagal response to seeing blood. MANY people do. even REALLY great nurses.

motherof3sons

Specializes in LTC. Has 22 years experience.

don't worry about the OR they see that more than you know. I wonder if once you start to do dressings your self if you handle it just fine. Do you have any warning you are going to faint, if so pre warn others so they can be alerted.

Wave Watcher

Specializes in Community Health/School Nursing. Has 7 years experience.

Bless your heart. :-( Hang in there.

We were never allowed to stand and observe in the OR during our clinicals for that exact reason....fainting. Obviosly we didn't see a whole lot of the actual procedures but we did get a feel for how the OR runs.

you'll be fine! drink more water next time or watch some OR youtube videos to get used to it.

people can get used to pretty much anything

ClaraRedheart, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 6 years experience.

PLEASE don't quit. We need good nurses. I've heard that it's fairly common. First time I nearly fainted, I was in report in a room with a patient, nurse and doc with an NG tube and a wound vac... my first day at clinical as a student. I didn't FEEL squeamish... but I saw stars and would have hit the floor had I not excused myself quickly and looked for the nearest chair. The next time, it was the next week in a crowded wound with some student nurses, 2 RN's, a pt, and a doctor doing a blood patch for a leaking epidural.

I worked with a lawyer who used to be a crime scene photographer. She passed out in the shower as an adult after seeing her own blood after a shaving accident. She looked it up... because, after all.. she could obviously look at OTHER people's blood and it didn't worry her, but her own made her light-headed, even if it was just a nick. What she read is that it is supposedly an evolutionary response to help you live longer in times of trauma. If there is blood all around you, chances are, something crazy could be going on. Passing out or freezing during battle could make you appear dead and then as a result, left alone. Maybe that's where this comes from. Who knows... but you can get over it. I did. I can even give intramuscular injections with only a SLIGHT flinch now ;)