When Surgeons Fall Asleep

Tue, 06/26/2012 - 9:54am
Dr. Anthony Youn

Confession: I've fallen asleep while operating on patients. And I'm sure I'm not the only one.

No, I've never passed out and face-planted into a patient's open belly. Nor have I fallen asleep in the operating room as a plastic surgeon in practice. But as a resident, I performed the dreaded head-bob several times. Here is a typical scenario:

The OR is silent, except for the rhythmic beep from the anesthesia machine. My surgical scrubs feel warm, like a pair of comfy pajamas. I sit, holding two tiny retractors, while the hand surgeon meticulously dissects the patient's carpal tunnel. It's a surgery I've assisted on dozens of times before.

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