Sunday, May 17, 2009

SurgeXperiences 223

"We have been fighting a long time.  We are outnumbered by machines.  Humans have a strength that cannot be measured."  Terminator Salvation trailer.

Welcome to SurgeXperiences 223!

In anticipation of the upcoming release of Terminator Salvation, the loose theme of this collection will be "Man and Machine."  When I use the term man here I'm referring to humanity in all its facets - flawed or perhaps even evil at times, but also noble and capable of surpassing goodness.

First, the machines.

Where would we be without them?  Here's a list of "12 Amazing Robots That are Revolutionizing Medicine."

Karen Little writes the enjoyable blog Just Up the Dose from South Africa (and, incidentally, will host SurgeXperiences two weeks from now).  Read her impressions of a machine I use every day, and of how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Sterile Eye, who works at the interface between man and machine, takes us through a carotid endarterectomy from his perspective as a medical photographer.

Ramona Bates, who writes Suture for a Living, recently had to face life on the other side of the surgical drape when her mom underwent cardiac bypass surgery, clearly a situation in which the coordinated work of human hands and sophisticated machinery achieves great good.

Now let's turn to humans - some showing their darker side, others their best and brightest.

What's worse than a doctor who makes an honest mistake?  A doctor who does something dishonest on purpose.  Arun Shanbhag and Buckeye Surgeon weigh in on the orthopedic surgeon who falsified research about wounded soldiers in Iraq.

But what about this news item about a surgeon who was nowhere to be found after his patient had been anesthetized for her scheduled surgery?   A second surgeon was called to do the procedure, and he refused because he was unfamiliar with the patient.  The anesthetic was reversed and the operation didn't end up getting done.  What happened here? Should BOTH surgeons be accused of wrongdoing, or just the original surgeon?

Here's another article that might spark some controversy, about suicide and organ donation.  I wasn't entirely comfortable reading it...but perhaps we should be reflecting on ethical questions that make us uncomfortable, and ask ourselves why we have the convictions we have, when we might bend them, and how we make the decisions we make.

Surgeons see a lot of blood.  They do get used to it.  Sometimes doctors look back on some really bad clinical scenarios, even some of the bloodiest, and can still find a kernel of ironic humor in a moment or a phrase. You can't make some of this stuff up - so I'm always glad when Bongi, who writes so vividly, peels back the curtain and gives us an inside look.

Does being used to blood and gore mean you get blind to it or
 numb to others' suffering?  Surgeon-author Pauline Chen has written about this in a recent column for the New York Times and on her blog.

Sterile Eye reflects too on why his job doesn't nauseate him.  It's clear from this post about meeting patients for the first time that exposure to surgery on a daily basis certainly hasn't made him lose his humanity.

In one of the best recent posts I've read in the medical blogosphere, RT describes what happened after an hour-long code in the surgical ICU for a ruptured aneurysm, and how dehumanizing protocol can be.  He himself hasn't lost his humanity either, though.

Finally, Chris, military surgeon and author of Made a Difference, calls us to remember why we're able to be free and encourages us to enjoy that freedom mindfully .

Thank you for stopping by this edition of SurgeXperiences, a blog carnival about experiences involving surgery. It is open to all who have a surgical blog post or article to submit. I'd like to thank Vitum at Vitum medicinus for creating our SurgeXperiences logo (above).

The next edition of SurgExperiences can be found at Just Up the Dose, the blog of South African resident Dr. Karen Little, on May 31.

Please submit your blog posts via the carnival submission form.  Please also note that different hosts use or omit posts at their own discretion; I tend not to include submissions that are clearly ads for products, services, or sites or that are not actual blog posts, but other hosts may include any and all submissions.

Click here for a catalogue of past editions of SurgeXperiences.  

You can also subscribe to SurgeXperiences via RSS feed or email.

If you would like to host a future edition, please contact Jeffrey Leow, who's in charge of the carnival.


Jeffrey said...

thanks for hosting Dr T!

enjoyed this great edition. :)

Øystein said...

Great edition! Isn't it cool when themes form after the posts are subitted?

Thanks for including me!

Colin Timberlake said...

Thanks for hosting and interesting edition. Also, thanks for including the article irrespective of your own moral take.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for including me...I try to stay human in this enterprise, but boy, sometimes it really gets me down.