Ahem, which lung again

Okay. Time for a haunting story.

No, it isn’t scary.

It’s just something I think about.

A lot.

Be careful when discussing care in front of an awake patient.

The surgery was going to be a big one for our little hospital that could.

We were doing a lung lobectomy for cancer.

In the five years I worked there this was the first one I was going to participate in.

This is a BIG set-up.

The anesthesiologist was preparing to put the patient to sleep and I walked in to relieve the nurse for lunch and also to count as it was expected to go past 1500.

I picked up the chart and looked at the consent. There was no mention of laterality on the consent. It just said on the top line of the consent lung lobectomy.

I asked the nurse I was relieving about the laterality.

The room fell quiet.

The anesthesiologist hissed at me, It’s the left lower lobe.

The word stupid was implied.

I remembered the patient was still awake.

This was no time to inspire fear in him that we didn’t even know what we were doing.

And I spied it.

An itty-bitty notation two lines away from the bulk of the consent writing: left lower lobe.

This was duly initialed by the surgeon and the patient and the nurse who was correcting the consent.

But the patient still heard us discuss in the room the laterality.

He must’ve been so scared.

Now I am careful about the level of consciousness when I ask clarifying questions.

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