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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Learning the Hard Way

"Knife..... Cutting....." this is what you'll hear from the surgeon during the commencement of a surgery.  Being a surgeon in training has its own ups & downs.  There's is this glorius feeling whenever you save a life in a patient with gunshot wound, when you save a limb in compartment syndrome.  You'll really feel happy both for the patient and for your own since this was the reason why you entered medicine in the first place right? To cure & to save.

But being a surgeon I believe is like a double sided knife, There's a time when you make a mistake or you're just plain unlucky that you get a morbidity or a mortality affecting the patient & his/her family forever.

Dr. Yam once told me when I was a first year resident, the most dreaded feeling you'll get is when you had a morbidity & mortality which was caused or facilitated by your surgery.  You won't be able to sleep, you'll always think about it, you'll always feel down, you'll feel guilty, you can't eat right.  I didn't understand it back then, I was after all a first year, I'm not allowed to do surgeries back then.

Recently one of my consultant's patient experienced morbidity & although I'm not the attending, but being part of the surgical team, makes you feel really responsible of what happened. You'll experience great sadness that the morbidity was from your own doing, although not intentional (whoever intends a morbidity right?).  I believe this is the burden that every surgeon carries and only a surgeon can fully understand what I'm talking about.

But as Dr Abes once said, "No great surgeon has never experienced a morbidity or mortality once in his practice."  Just take this grain of salt & turn it into a learning experience, so that in your future practice, you won't make the same mistake again to another patient.

Lesson learned the hard way.
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