Refusing to do a surgery?

  1. I am just curious about something...when I worked as a patient technician in OR/PACU, I remember sitting around chit chatting with some of the nurses and one nurse was talking about the worst surgery she had ever been on was a D&C for an ectopic pregnancy and the procedure therafter. She said after that surgery, she would never ever agree to scrub in on one of those ever again. I know that in the case of that patient, it was life or death and there was no choice...but it got me thinking...what if it was an elective procedure to terminate a pregnancy? I don't think I would be able to be a part of that. One way I am going to try and make sure I don't have to be put in that situation would be to get on with a Catholic hospital or Baptist hospital...but I am wondering, when it comes to something like that does an OR nurse really have a choice?

    BTW, I'm not a nurse yet but my interests lie in OR. I'm not a 'bible thumper' and I am not even a role-model Christian...but something like that, I wouldn't be able to handle.
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    About michele742

    Joined: Apr '11; Posts: 111; Likes: 28
    RN; from US
    Specialty: OR


  3. by   ORoxyO
    At my hospital they do D&Cs, and D&Es all the time. They do allow us to not participate if we are not comfortable. Same goes with the sex change procedures. However, if it is an emergency/holiday/weekend and you are the only one there, you better believe you are doing it.
  4. by   michele742
    Thank you ORoxyO If an emergent situation, I don't have as much of an issue with it, you know? It would be sad but in an emergent situation I could buck up and deal with it and be there for the patient. I cannot think of any other procedure that I would have an issue with. Your information makes me feel much better. Thank you!
  5. by   TakeTwoAspirin
    Just curious. Why were they doing a D&C if it was an ectopic pregnancy?

    Anyway, like ORoxy0 already said, in most cases the institution will understand if your personal beliefs prohibit you taking part in an elective termination. However, in a true emergency you will be expected to step up and put your personal beliefs aside.
  6. by   michele742
    Quote from TakeTwoAspirin
    Just curious. Why were they doing a D&C if it was an ectopic pregnancy?

    Anyway, like ORoxy0 already said, in most cases the institution will understand if your personal beliefs prohibit you taking part in an elective termination. However, in a true emergency you will be expected to step up and put your personal beliefs aside.

    Not sure? Maybe just a second part of the procedure to scrape out the old cells..not sure about that. I'll spare the details as relayed to me, as to not offend. This is information that makes me feel better. In this particular case I believe it was emergent for the patient, as it was an ectopic pregnancy that was fairly advanced in the tube...a tube that, apparently to everyone's surprise, had not ruptured ...yet. In that situation I could put my personal beliefs aside, even though it would be devastating to be a part of - I would just be thinking of how much more devastating it would be for the mother, so I could completely be there for the patient. However, it got me thinking of if/when there was an elective termination...and no way could I be a part of that, and how that would affect my job. I really appreciate your responses...very encouraging and also your responses are how I would hope it would be.
  7. by   canesdukegirl
    I used to work in Gyn/Onc when I first started my nursing career. At times, we would use the unit procedure room to do elective terminations when the patient had waited too long or when the pt was too high risk to go to a clinic.

    One weekend, we had a young (obviously scared out of her mind) pt that was scheduled for an elective term. The pt's nurse was clear that she would not be assisting the doc with the procedure. The other three nurses also refused. That left me. Although it went against every personal belief that I had, I assisted the doc. It was horrible and I had nightmares for weeks.

    There really isn't a pretty, fulfilling and thought provoking end to the story. Sometimes it JUST SUCKS.
  8. by   cdsga
    Check with your hospital. We have a form that we have the employee and the manager complete that states what case you would not like to do due to moral, religious beliefs. There are other cases besides abortions that people can elect not to be a part of. There was one of my employees who could not do Carotid surgeries because her mother died during a carotid procedure. This form is kept in the manager's file for staffing purposes and in the employee's file for reference. The managers then try to assign cases being respectful of the employee's preferences, but in emergent situations all people are expected to assist. Employees can at least assist in the set up etc until relief gets there.
  9. by   michele742
    Excellent information cdsga! Thank you very much for that. I was apprehensive at first to post this question for fear that I would be looked down upon. You all have been so kind and straightforward with information, and I really appreciate it. I admire you all and I hope to one day be joining people like yourselves in the OR
  10. by   cdsga
    No problem-glad to be of help. Life is tough enough-don't need to be tough with each other!
  11. by   coconutzz
    While I was a volunteer, not a nurse, at the time, I was a patient hand holder during elective abortions. I am also pro-choice, so, now that I am an OR nurse, I have no problem with this particular scenario. The best way to look at it is to remember that you are there to support a patient through a hard time and ensure that their procedure is safe for them. When you take yourself out of the picture, it is much easier to focus on the patient's needs.
  12. by   cdsga
    There are people who believe that an elective is taking a life of a human that has no say. Therefore they do not want to be a part of that scenario. If it was a life or limb decision then that is to protect a person from dire circumstances and would therefore not be an elective procedure. Most people would not have a problem with that. I am glad that there are people who have no problem with separating themselves from this issue, but there are equally people who feel that they are aiding and abetting in assisting with this procedure. I know it is a tough subject, but like I stated earlier there are options for those healthcare providers that do not wish to participate.
  13. by   fusionfire32
    I can 100 percent relate to your feelings. It can be very disturbing to be a part of an elective procedure. I also used to work in an obs/gyn or and I remember that one afternoon we had an elective TOP for a patient and when the POC were out we saw formed parts and this image still disturbs and gives me nightmares. So for once I don't take part in electives but as an emergent procedure we have to put our thoughts aside and focus on patients.
  14. by   Scrubby
    I know this will probably inflame some people but I'm going to say it anyway.

    It's not about you, it's about the patient. If you can't put aside your personal beliefs and judgements then you probably shouldn't be working in areas where terminations of pregnancy are performed. What if every nurse on that shift refused to assist, do you send the patient home to be rescheduled?