CHICAGO, IL – Chaos ensued at a Chicago hospital last week when an anesthesia resident was missing from the surgical lounge. Around 10 a.m., a surgery resident noticed that the surgery lounge, which is normally occupied all day with anesthesiology residents eating and discussing what interesting case they were currently “doing,” was missing one of its most influential members. Dr. Lance Briggs was later found asleep in his chair while a CABG procedure was being performed on the other side of the drapes. It is speculated that Dr. Briggs may have dozed off sometime between his second coffee break and his first lunch break.
“The real issue isn’t that he fell asleep during a case,” stated the OR Director, “as this happens quite commonly after the patient has been put on bypass. The real issue here is that he did not report to his mandated break.”
“We have fought long and hard to be afforded the same perks that unionized VA and county-system nurses get,” he added, “and missing one of these breaks puts the whole system at jeopardy. Sure we could just slam down a protein bar between cases and keep working all day like our ortho colleagues do, but that is not why we chose to be anesthesiologists.”
Dr. Briggs later commented, “In my defense, I was pre-call that day. So even though I was going home early that day, I had worked an entire 8 hours the day before and was drained from it. I never was smart enough for crosswords, so I really had nothing to do to keep myself awake.”
“I did find it odd that we had been operating for an entire hour without a new face peeking over the drapes,” stated the cardiac fellow in on the case. “I’m used to every 30-45 minutes there being a new person back there trying to figure out what is going on, in lieu of an appropriate sign out. To be fair though, whenever an attempt at signing out the patient is made, my attending yells at the anesthesiologist for making noise.”
A further investigation will be needed to determine why the CRNA assigned to give Dr. Briggs a break was not available to wake him up. “It is the job of the CRNA to ensure that catastrophes like missing your break do not happen,” the OR director persisted. He added, “Why would patients want one surgical team and one anesthesia team, when they could have multiple anesthetists all bringing something new and unique to the table?”