HOUSTON, TX – Finding it to be a particularly slow day in the operating room today, bored anesthesiologist Lee Maxwell has been spotted running around Houston Medical Center, intubating med/surg patients on the floor at random.
Nurses were puzzled when they found several patients on the floor with an endotracheal tube in place, even though they were thought to be medically stable for discharge. During the first few hours of the morning, blame was being placed on Anesthesia, even though health care professionals on the floor lacked the incriminating evidence they needed.
“What do you mean we didn’t have proof? All these patients had tubes in their throats,” said charge nurse Frank Schumann, whose floor has more intubated patients than the ICU upstairs. “If that isn’t Anesthesia’s calling card, I don’t what is.”
Just before lunchtime, a patient was heard coughing. Schumann astutely ran to the patient’s bedside, and there he spotted Maxwell throwing down what would have been the 43rd endotracheal tube placed this morning on a floor patient if Schumann hadn’t intervened.
“What on earth do you think you’re doing?!” Schumann shouted at Maxwell. “He’s just coughing. He’s not hypoxemic.”
“He can’t maintain his way,” Maxwell insisted. “Must intubate.”
“Are you out of your mind?!”
“MUST INTUBATE.” Maxwell was now talking with a monotonic, almost robot-like tone. “I need… to… protect… his airway… Need… more… airways… Must… intubate…”
Talk to any anesthesiologist, and they will tell you that the profession is riddled with stresses. But if there was one thing that scared an anesthesiologist more than accidentally intubating a patient’s rectum or putting on a puppet show that didn’t bring joy to an OR, it was intubating a patient out of sheer boredom.
Always fear the bored anesthesiologist.
Luckily for the coughing patient, Schumann’s words got through to Maxwell and snapped him out of his intubation spree.
“Good God, what have I become?!” Maxwell put the Mac blade down, which he realized he hadn’t even sterilized from patient to patient. He surrendered to hospital security. “Please. Please help me.”