Amanda McGowan, Editor, Surgical Products

I admit it. I am a Grey’s Anatomy addict. I have watched the show since its series premiere and been hooked on what will happen next in the lives of the surgeons, residents and interns at Seattle Grace ever since.

I am aware the show is more of a soap opera set in a hospital than an accurate portrayal of the day-to-day operations of a hospital. However, as an editor of a surgical magazine, I couldn’t help but take notice when I flipped on the season finale a few Thursdays ago to see the daVinci SiHD Surgical System from Intuitive Surgical written into the script.

In the scene, Dr. Webber, chief of surgery, buys the system in an attempt to bribe Dr. Bailey, one of his top surgeons, from leaving General Surgery for Pediatrics. Bailey oohs and aahs and proceeds to use the system in the show. While it’s great (and apparently free) advertising for the company, I highly doubt Intuitive Surgical’s exposure on the hit show will result in a dramatic increase in sales. Although, the product’s role in the show does bring up something I learned early into my Surgical Products career. That is, it is important to keep an OR’s surgeon line-up strong by providing them with the right tools.

I was speaking with a reader of the magazine, an OR supervisor, awhile back who explained to me how running the surgery department is very much like running a business. You want the top-performing employees on board.

In order to do this, you need to provide them with the instruments they want and need. If they can’t get the tools they need to do their best work, they might go somewhere else, and the OR’s business will suffer. Weaker surgeons may mean a lower standard of surgery and patient care, resulting in lower case throughput, etc.

According to the OR supervisor, each surgeon at her hospital often has his/her own preferences for supplies and instrumentation. Maintaining the proper inventory can be difficult when surgeons want different tools, but it’s essential in keeping the OR running at its optimal potential. The strongest surgical team is bound to garner strong results in all sectors of the OR—patient safety, procedural advancements, case throughput, financials, etc.—if the surgeon feels properly equipped.

I thought of this conversation as I watched Grey’s that night. While it is a fictional show and I doubt surgeons are calling up Intuitive Surgical non-stop asking for "the daVinci system they saw on Grey’s,” it does bring up a good point about keeping an OR successful by keeping your best surgeons on board. It’s about finding and keeping the right surgical staff to perform at the highest level—and that means providing them with the tools they need to succeed.

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