“Time-out”… in the Operating Room

Everyone who follows sports teams knows about the “time-outs.” Sometimes a team calls one at an important juncture in the game to strategize, or recover from a poor stretch of play. Or, sometimes it can just be for commercials!

At The Cumberland Clinic where I perform surgery, we also have a “time-out,” but it is more unique in that it occurs before the procedure ever begins.

time-out hand gesture and operating roomFor those of you who have been a surgical patient, you’ll remember the in-take nurse asking you a host of questions – many of which you were sure you had already told someone else. And then your surgeon talked to you to review your specific problem, confirm his or her surgical plans, and answer any questions you might have had. All of these protocols are part of a structured routine to be sure there are no mis-steps in your procedure and care.

What you may not know is that after all of this, your surgeon, anaesthesiologist, surgical assistants and nurses have yet another briefing we call a “time-out.” The “time-out” confirms your name, birth date and specific procedure, outlining any details that might require special attention. Your health status, including any medical conditions, allergies, medications, blood pressure, etc. are reviewed. Females have their pregnancy test results reviewed. (It’s the law!)

You are given a classification of anaesthetic risk (most of my patients are “1,” for no systemic disease, or “2,” mild and controlled systemic disease). The anaesthesiologist confirms all the equipment has been checked out and is ready, the scrub nurse confirms the required instruments are available and all the sterility indicators are positive. We confirm what medications will be used during the surgery, how long the procedure will last, and whether we will be using calf compressors (almost always – to prevent the risk of blood clots) and a warming blanket. Only when everyone is satisfied that everything is in order do I proceed with the surgery.

And, as a procedure ends, all of the operating room staff perform an “exit time-out” to review the procedure and any unusual or unexpected events that might have occurred. This information is passed on directly to the recovery room nurses so they are able to knowledgeably and expertly monitor and assist in your postoperative recovery. In this way we minimize intraoperative risks and maximize your potential for a quick and safe recovery.

Thanks for reading my blog about the importance of time-outs in the operating room. I hope you won’t hesitate to call the office if you have any questions about a cosmetic surgery procedure you are considering. We would love to help.




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