Monday, September 8, 2008

Surgical Technologists in the Spotlight

When it comes to surgery, the doctor who is performing an operation may be in the starring role. But the supporting cast is also vital to the success of the performance.

Surgical Technologist Appreciation Week (September 21-27) seems like a good opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of some of these unsung heroes.

What does a surgical technologist do, anyway?

Judging from the surgical services staff at Fauquier Hospital, the answer may be “almost everything.”

“We take care of everything for the surgery, from gathering the necessary equipment and supplies for the surgery to making sure the instruments are in working order and properly sterilized,” said Tedric Lolis, a certified surgical technician. “We assist during surgery, help position the patient, make sure we have everything we will need, maintain the sterile environment, pass instruments, watch for signs of a problem and anticipate the needs of the surgeon.”

The surgical technologists at Fauquier Hospital handle many different kinds of operations – orthopedic, EMT (ear, nose and throat), general surgery, urology, gynecology, opthalmology, vascular, even cesarean births. Indeed, that’s what many in the department like about the job. “It’s something different all the time,” said surgical technologist Keith Robinson. “It’s definitely a rush, working with different doctors, making sure everything goes smoothly. There’s a lot on the line. “Because every patient is unique, the simplest case can develop into something unexpected. We have to be ready. If we see some bleeding, we are right there, putting the correct instrument in the doctor’s hand.”

Tedric agrees that there can be some high drama in the OR. “We know that when we start a C-section, there are lives on the line. We are prepared. We know that every laparoscopic case (surgery through a small incision) could turn into an open case (major surgery).”

Deborah Boswell, clinical educator, points out that one important job performed by the techs is to keep careful count of all the instruments and sponges, before and after the surgeries.
Keith explained, “We control the field. We are the safety officers, making sure everything is kept sterile and safe.”

Tedric says, “We work with so many different doctors and they are all different. We have to be attuned to those differences. Their routines can vary dramatically.”

How do surgeons feel about working with Fauquier Hospital surgical technologists?

Dr. Gina Moore, a OB/GYN physician, says that the surgical techs at Fauquier Hospital help her cases run smooth, safe and on time. “We have an excellent OR team. They are top-notch.”

These members of the OR’s supporting cast have become more visible of late. Traditionally, the surgical techs don’t see patients when they are conscious; they step in while the patients are receiving anesthesia and are often not seen or remembered by the patients. In an effort to allow the technologists more patient contact, the techs currently are helping to teach a class for patients who are scheduled to undergo joint replacement.

Deborah says, “The class gives patients an idea of what goes on during surgery. Patients like meeting the surgical techs, and when they come in for surgery, they find a familiar face they can talk to and ask questions. It’s comforting for them to see the same tech when they come in for surgery as they did during their class.”

Surgical technologists, for once, can meet their audience.

Now, it’s time to take a bow.

No comments: