Don't Touch My Oxygen!

Posted by Clark Venable on 5/2/2006

Most days are nice. Occasionally I get into a head-butting contest with a nurse or surgeon (but much less often than when I was younger). Of late, it seems to be an almost daily occurrence. Today's example? I arrived at a surgery center to start cases to find the oxygen failure alarm triggered on all our anesthesia machines. After telling colleagues and putting all rooms on hold, I figure out that a valve leak the day before had required a valve to be removed and the resulting system did not have enough oxygen pressure to keep the alarms from triggering. This was fixed in about 15 minutes and we proceeded.

Several hours later a nurse manager told me they were going to switch the oxygen system back to the way it was. I told her that, in my opinion, this should not be done until all cases for the day were finished. 'But it will only take a minute' was her reply. I told here once more that in my opinion as an anesthesiologist, no one should mess with a system that was presently working and that the safest thing to do was wait until rooms were down. She left and had the technicians make the switch.

She will now learn the hard way that you do not touch my oxygen while cases are under way. When it comes to patient safety, our opinions are not equal...

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