Let’s Bring Cigarettes Back in the OR

Kidding, obviously. Today, one of the more senior doctors leading our patient safety conference recalled memories of a time when nurses would light the cigarettes of attending physicians during surgery.

The scrubbed in attending would hold up his gloved hands, elbows bent by his sides, and the nurse would proceed to push a ciggy through the surgeons mask. The nurse would then light the cigarette, hold it up, and maneuver it until the physician was satisfied with his smoke intake. This is of course all necessary to maintain sterile technique.

For a host of reasons, this is one of the most absurd things I have head.

I wonder what we will look back on as common practice today and deem as totally absurd in twenty years. Working in a culture where people would chose not to speak up on behalf of a patient for fear of being perceived incompetent comes to mind as a frontrunner.

We all need to be vocal about the things we perceive as wrong and absurd. This is the only way to effect change for the better.

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