Part of the joy of being a long-term member of an operating room crew is knowing who has you back in any situation. The OR does not work well when significant trust issues exist within the team. Starting in OR’s in the 1960s and departing in 1980 for professional anthropology work, I saw a wide selection of OR’s. My favorite was the last Boston area, OR I worked in from late 1978 -until early 1980. It had affiliations with major hospitals and medical schools. Among the things that patients and surgeons never saw was the intense internal accountability level in the OR. Everyone participated in preparing instruments, surgical drape packs, and sterile goods for procedures in my day. Items for sterilization got sealed with a special tape that had marking bars on it. These turned dark when the article had been through a complete sterilization cycle in an autoclave ( a steam sterilizer). On each tape were the initials of the person who prepared it and the date sterilized.
The fight against bacterial contamination was constant. We did not have a separate team for cleaning. We cleaned our own assigned rooms between cases and prepped for the next day after the OR schedule ended for the day. Idle moments were spent in idle conversation – while we checked crash carts, sterile supplies, and equipment. There was an extraordinary amount of checks and counter checks to ensure that our surgical outcomes were good.
It’s not mawkish to state that while we had each other’s backs, we also had the surgeons and the patients. think about that next time you are wheeled into an OR for a surgical procedure.

6 Replies to “Operate”

  1. Being a chef I know what you mean about quickly getting to know who’s a good team member and who’s not in the crew.
    I wouldn’t like to work with surgeons though that’s a messy job!

      1. Mason, a friend of mine is a chef, and we did a cooking show for a while. He used to tell me about how toxic a workplace a kitchen can be. It sounds like a wonderful career on one side and a trying one on the other. you definitely need to know who has your back!

      2. Oh wow, were you on Food Network or something then?

        I found the hardest bit was remembering you’re being shouted too not at. Although some chefs take pride in burying each other.

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