Funny Operating Room Stories: As Told by a Nurse
Am I Sterile?
I have been an operating room nurse for many years. It is a very challenging and very rewarding profession. There is a ton of stress, and to even it out, a ton of fun.
In the operating room, sterile is everything. You must know what is sterile and what is not. You must never turn your back on a sterile field. A “sterile” team member is sterile on their front, from the height of the sterile field to the neck. Arms are sterile from elbows to fingertips. Faces, backs and armpits are not sterile.
One day working with an orthopedic surgeon, he slipped on something and fell. As he fell, he went down straight on his back making sure to keep his hands and arms up. His first question after falling was, "Am I still sterile?". It is true, he kept his front and arms and hands off the floor. But all of him was below the height of the sterile field. I was laughing so hard I could barely catch my breath to tell him no.
Working on call can be trying and tiring. One day I was on call with another woman. We had been working straight through since 6:30 am. It was now 2 am the next morning. We must have been slap-happy with exhaustion.
The surgeon entered the room and told us the following joke:
“Did you hear about the dyslexic, insomniac agnostic? He stayed up all night wondering if there was a Dog.”
I know the joke is not so funny, but she and I laughed for almost 15 minutes. We laughed so hard that we could not begin the surgery. The surgeon kept telling us it wasn't that funny, which only made us laugh more. The actual surgery took less time than our laughing.
Do You Have A Tampon?
We took extra precautions when performing total knee or hip replacements. No-one was allowed to leave or enter the room. One part of maintaining a sterile field is restricting how many times the door to the outside of the room is opened.
One day, while I was charge nurse, another nurse pulled my to the side. “Do you have any tampons?”, she asked, “Deb just called out of the total hip asking for one.” I told the nurse that Deb probably wanted a femoral wick (a sponge used for drying the femoral canal...more commonly called a "tampon"). The nurse was convinced Deb wanted a tampon until I asked her, "Where will she change it?" That did it, she knew no-one would change their tampon with an entire room of people watching.
What Does Crazy Glue, A Bra Hook And A Rubber Band Have In Common?
Can you imagine a surgery where the doctor asks you for crazy glue, a bra hook and a rubber band? I was working one day, and a doctor asked for for exactly that! I thought he was joking. I just laughed at him. Doctors were always sending nurses for strangely named things that don’t exist. Well, I found out he was not joking the moment he yelled at me to go and get them. I went out and found out that, yes, we had these items. The doctor used them as a retraction device for a finger surgery. He put the rubber band around the wrist, crazy glued the bra hook to the fingernail and hooked the bra hook to the rubber band to keep the finger bent.
Trevor Noah Talking About Signing In For Surgery
We have funny names for many things:
"Hand grenade" is not an explosive device, it is a type of drain reservoir, it looks like a hand grenade.
"Tampon" is not something only used by females, it is a femoral wick to dry out the middle of the bone during total joints.
"Sponge" is not something to wash dishes with, it is a thin to thick piece of gauze to blot the wound with.
"Time out" is not putting the child in the corner because they have misbehaved, it is making sure you have the right patient, right site, and correct implants.
"4 X 4" is not a piece of wood, it is a type of "sponge".
Surgery is a place where people love to play jokes on the new person. Some of the things we ask for are nonexistent...for example:
"Mitochondrial Welder"--This is often asked for. I once worked with a nurse who had been in the OR for about 5 years. We had asked her for the Mitochondrial Welder when she was new...who would have thought she would fall for it again. One day I found her and a new (to the OR) nurse in the stockroom, frantically looking for something. I asked what they were looking for and they told me "the mitochondrial welder". I laughed and told them to go back and say we didn't have one. I reminded them there is no such thing.
New drugs come out every day. One day, in the urology room, an anesthesia provider decided to have fun with one of the nurses. He told her the patient kept moving and he needed some "nomoveatall'. She was desperately calling Pharmacy, when I found out and stopped her.
This became a big joke....but some people never learn.
Later that same month I found this nurse calling Pharmacy to ask for some nocoxafloxin. Once again, the request came from the urology room. I told her to hang up, there is no drug called "no cocks a flopping.
Special Place for Special People
The OR is a special place for special people. Your ego has to be strong enough that it doesn't get caught up in the fun and games...and big enough that it doesn't get hurt by them. I love my job and all it's inconsistencies. The bonus is there is always a need for OR Nurses in this world.
A Joke About 5 Doctors
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
© 2009 Kari Poulsen