KBW’s Surgical Pearl Necklace


This page is a collection of wise surgical words, handily strung together here. Most of it is common sense…

Never operate on anyone you have not personally seen and examined yourself, no matter how small the operation or how inconvenient it is to do so.

Per rectum examinations should be done at the time of abdominal examination, not as an after thought an hour later, it makes a big deal of it when it shouldn’t be.

Do not lie, the right answer or “I don’t know” are good answers.

Verify everything, this is not the same as trust no-one but it is very close to it.
Treat every patient as though they know someone you know, smile, look them in the eye, shake hands.

No operation is beneath you.

Knowing when not to operate is more important than knowing when to operate.

Beware anyone who says they are a specialist, that they are very senior, or that they are an expert.

Good surgery looks easy, you can be a good surgeon by making every operation as easy as possible for yourself.

A cut blood vessel has two ends.

Never do an elective operation that you don’t think will work.

If there is a chance that the operation could be for cancer, operate as though it is for cancer. i.e. adequate margins and an oncological approach to the lymph nodes.

You shouldn’t fuck with the pancreas. 

An operation note that contains the words “however” or “actually” usually means it was a nightmare. 

Do not meddle in the management of people that you know. If they are a friend of yours be their friend, not their doctor. 

The purpose of the ward round is to examine, manage and communicate with patients. They are the stars of it, not you. 


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