29 Surgeons Share Their Biggest ‘Oh Shit’ Moments From Serious Operations

Twenty20, jasmom1
Twenty20, jasmom1

1. We ran a spike through a man’s eyeball

I was a junior doctor working in neurosurgery back in 2008 when one of the senior registrars (I suppose the equivalent is chief resident in the USA) told me his most unfortunate moment. In order to have a patients head stabilised for surgery he was using a frame that had a set of 3 spikes that held the head in place. Due to the angle he needed to approach from, this required the patient to be face down. As he was placing the head of the anaesthatised patient on to the frame the head slipped and his eye landed on to the spike, perforating the eyeball. Panicking and thinking that his career was now over, he then (rather bizarely) started poking at the eyeball trying to work out what was what until the anaesthetist told him to stop. They then called the ophthalmologist who came to tidy up what was now a completely ruined eye. After the surgery, terrified, he went to explain to the patient what had happened. Understandably fearing the worst, anger, distress and tears, received the response of “that’s OK I was blind in that eye anyway!”.

Luckiest bastard ever

2. We accidentally set a patient on fire

Way way back in the day pre-op was done with alcohol-based cleaners. Naked, sedated guy with a light sheen of cleaning fluid on him + static electric spark = fully engulfed in flames. Everyone just stood there for a second until someone grabbed a sheet and put out the flames. Surgery went well, no complications, slight sun tan.

3. We had trouble getting his guts back inside

We had a patient in the ICU who had some big abdomen trauma. He had gone to the OR and was too sick to be able to close his abdomen, so we left it open. We had a piece of plastic covering, like a bag, covering his intestines and then we placed a vacuumed sponge dressing on top of that, called a woundvac.

The patient’s nurse called me into the room to look at the abdomen because she thought she saw pieces of the bowel seeping out of the bag and getting sucked against the woundvac. I agreed and thought the bowel looked pretty dusky as well, so we called the doc to come and look at it.

The resident agreed and talked to his attending who told him to take the woundvac off, tuck the bowel back into the bag it had escaped from and put a new woundvac on.

It all just sounded like it was going to be a disaster, but whatever.

So, resident comes in, takes off the woundvac and the bowels had become very swollen from the fluids, trauma, etc… so when he took the woundvac off, they all slipped out of the patient. The bag had dislodged significantly. We would tuck the bowels in one side, they’d spill out the other. Here we had this guy in his bed, disemboweling and we simply could not get everything back in him, in the bag, or anything.

Luckily, the drugs we had the patient on kept him very nicely sedated and we had other drugs to control any problems with his blood pressure and the guy wasn’t overtly bleeding… it was MESSY. We really just had to step back and say “Well, shit. How do we get this guys guts back inside him!?”

Ended up having to call in 6 other people to help tuck things here and there until he could get back to the OR for them to get everything back into its proper place…


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