NHS Health and Safety for Surgeons (Part 1)

As part of my job I am expected to dress by certain rules that are frequently flaunted by many doctors. These are;

1. No jewellery other than a plain wedding band (that includes this seasons essential a big chunky clunky necklace)
2. Covered toe shoes
3. Hair tied back
4. Clean and neat appearance
5. No neck ties
6. Blah blah blah

This is to protect patients and staff from endangering one another in some way. When in theatre or endoscopy I wear scrubs and (nowadays a white coat is banned) on top of my scrubs I wear a surgical gown and gloves which I am tied into and is sterile. The gown is meant to protect me from getting soaked in blood/faeces/urine/pus/wash fluid etc. It also protects the patient from bacterial strike-through from my skin organisms if it all was to get wet and soggy. We do sometimes get right inside you when you are being operated on, we really are intimately close and we are pressed against you for hours.

The fatal flaw in this plan is that the gowns are cheap crap, I end up at least once a month in blood soaked underwear and not because I’ve neglected to bring a tampon.

Health and safety imagine that a rogue diamond stud is going to magically unhook itself from my ear and free fall into someone’s subhepatic space where it will form an abscess and result in a huge payout by the hospital. Or perhaps a silky scarf will drape itself over a filthy wound and then I will go and look in another wound and spread disease and bacteria via my silk scarf . Or worse still, under the ring on my right hand will lurk Clostridium difficle which magically cannot live under my wedding band. What a load of shit.

The picture below isn’t of me, but it could have been me last week after removing 200cm of dead necrotic intestines that dissolved into a mass of black pudding and blood. (Image is copyright of Janet Caldwell. It’s an amazing image, sorry of you are annoyed it is here. I am not massively sure if I am allowed to do this or not.)

Next time I am a bloody mess I’ll get a photo done of me. You will notice that I will not be wearing earrings. Meanwhile, I’ll continue getting drenched in blood, shit and pus from nipples to knees all in the course of my employment.

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