MACON, GA – Like many medical centers, St. Joseph the Protector Hospital is experiencing severe drug shortages, especially in the operating room. The latest unobtainable drug is the non-depolarizing paralyzing agent succinylcholine, usually reserved in surgery for rapid sequence intubation of the trachea. The search for an acceptable alternative began with St. Joe’s newest surgeon, Dr. Foster, suggesting the immortal properties of cobra venom.
“I sent the nurse anesthesia students to the medical library to examine the literature for a safe, preferably natural substitute,” said chief nurse anesthetist Agatha Gudell. “They returned with a Google search on curare and a blow gun from the nearest pawn shop.”
In direct contrast to computerized charting, this novel approach increased efficiency while decreasing cost, but anesthesiologist Dr. Glide has ordered a new protocol for paralysis once the current supply of curare darts is exhausted. “We would shoot the patients in pre-op and they would be very quiet and relaxed before surgery; none of that annoying chattiness Versed sometimes caused. Despite increased compliance and apparent serenity, our patient satisfaction scores have plummeted.”
Dr. Glide’s solution? With curare and most other substances derived from rainforest plants now on backorder, the South American manufacturer revealed they can provide the anesthesia department with either succinylcholine at greatly inflated prices or a bargain poison arrow frog shipment canceled by Zoo Atlanta.
“The patients will love it,” assured Mrs. Gudell. “We’ll sedate them adequately before requesting they lick a frog in the OR. Those with larger tongues, who might otherwise be more difficult intubations, will naturally cover more frog surface area with a lick, so we don’t even have to use math and calculate dosages for adequate muscle relaxation. Best of all, if the patients lick a frog twice, Dr. Foster will finally get the complete paralysis he demands for skin closure.”
Mrs. Gudell immediately paged the nurse anesthesia students to send reports of this new finding to both Anesthesia & Analgesia and Nature, but upon further investigation, the students were found marching around the OR with hair dryers awkwardly tucked into their scrub pants. One of them shrugged apologetically.
“We’re out of Robinul to dry the patient’s secretions.”
Editor’s Note: No animals or humans were permanently harmed while reporting on this story, but one reporter still remains intubated after trying to lick a colorful frog.