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Something interesting I learnt in the operating room…be prepared for the unexpected.

Authors: Muhammad Harris Siddique; ST2 General Surgery; Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham; United Kingdom; @harris_siddique

During my time as a general surgery trainee, I have had the opportunity to witness a wide range of surgical procedures. Each procedure has taught me something new, whether it be a new technique or a new way to approach a problem. However, there was one particular operation that stands out in my mind as the most important I have witnessed so far.

I was assisting in a bowel resection, which is a complex and delicate procedure. The surgeon leading the operation was experienced and confident, and everything was going smoothly until a sudden complication occurred. One of the blood vessels in the bowel began to bleed profusely, and the patient’s blood pressure dropped rapidly.

The atmosphere in the operating room immediately shifted from calm and controlled to chaotic and urgent. The surgeon quickly called for help and began working to control the bleeding. The anaesthetist increased the patient’s blood pressure, and the scrub nurse handed the surgeon the necessary instruments.

It was a tense few minutes, but the surgeon remained calm and focused throughout. Despite the unexpected complication, he was able quickly and effectively to control the bleeding and complete the surgery successfully. The patient made a full recovery and was discharged from the hospital a few days later.

This experience taught me several important lessons about being a surgeon. Firstly, it highlighted the importance of remaining calm under pressure. In a high-stress situation like this, it can be easy to panic and make mistakes. However, the surgeon demonstrated that staying focused and in control is essential for achieving a positive outcome.

Secondly, it showed me the importance of teamwork in the operating room. When a complication arises, every member of the surgical team has a role to play in resolving it. The anaesthetist, scrub nurse, and other assistants all worked together to support the surgeon and ensure the patient’s safety.

Finally, this experience taught me that surgery is not always predictable. No matter how experienced or skilled a surgeon may be, unexpected complications can, and do arise. As a trainee, it is important to be prepared for anything and to remain adaptable and flexible in the face of uncertainty.

Overall, witnessing this bowel resection surgery was a humbling and eye-opening experience for me. It taught me important lessons about the importance of remaining calm under pressure, working effectively as part of a team, and being prepared for the unexpected. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to witness such a skilled and experienced surgeon in action, and I will carry these lessons with me throughout my career.


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