I know this blog is for parents but we as parents have to work to give our kids better than we had, right? I am a Surgical Technologist by trade, I loved what I did, I loved going to work every day and for some time I was the sole provider for my family and worked 7 days a week while my husband sat at home. I loved my job so much it was more like my home than my home was (I mean I was there longer than I was at home anyways). I thought of the Operating Room as my safe place and I gave my all to help patients, surgeons and my team every time I walked through those doors.
I was working as a traveling surg. tech at a different hospital than my full-time job. I was making great money so even though the commute was long it was worth it and the majority of the people I worked with were amazing and we all worked well together even with me being a traveler and new to the hospital, we just felt in sync. I had to take a call so I would stay in an Airbnb close to the hospital and being on call meant that if a case was going after 5pm you were the one that would have to stay and finish the case. There was a night just like that and since I was on call, I had to relieve the tech that was assisting in the (ortho-spine) case. I had heard nothing good about the temperament of the surgeon I would be assisting and I was told he didn’t like new people in his rooms, at this point he didn’t have a choice, I was the call person. The case went OK, he was just very curt with me and very rude. The next day I asked not to be put in his room again. I was told that would be ok but just to know that “it is just the way he is “. I wasn’t very worried I would ever be put in his room during the day because he had his own team, until…. His whole team quits on him.
I woke up a little late this one morning and was not in all that much of a rush because I knew what cases I had for the day and my first case didn’t start till later in the morning. My commute was an hour and during my drive I got a call from the unit secretary asking where I was and how much longer it would take me to get there. I was confused to why she was calling because like i said my room didn’t start to later, she goes on to tell me that they had to put me in a different room today and that the patient was already in pre-op and the surgeon was rushing everyone. I asked why I was moved, her reply was “the surgeons team quit and I was the only Tech qualified to do the case”. This is when I realized whose room I was being put in and I was immediately pissed off and now in a rush due to the fact that the patient is now waiting and I was getting nervous about having to do a full case with this surgeon and now not getting time to set up my case without being rushed really sucked ass.
As I am busy setting up, the surgeon walks in the room and interrupts me to ask if I was able to do the case and if I had ever done this type of case before, which my answer was yes to both but he proceeded to find his PA and tell him he needed to watch me and keep me up to speed. So now he is making me doubt myself knowing full well I am more than competent to do this case with my eyes closed. As we start the case everything is going well but he was being very stand-offish and would ask for an instrument and then not even a second later ask for it again like I wasn’t fast enough but by the time he was getting the words out the second time the instrument was in his hands. We get to that part of the case where the implant Rep (who was right off of orientation and this is her first case alone) needs to get me the implants and I need to pack them with bone fragments and medications, and as I am handing the implant to him, I look at it to see the size again and realize it was one size smaller than he asked for so I ask him if he wanted a size 10 because this is an 8 and that was when ALL hell broke loose. Now, he will only have to wait about a minute and a half for me to make this right but he starts cussing and calling me and rep names, saying that we are incompetent and he wants to talk to the charge nurse right away. The circulator finds the charge nurse and after he screams at her saying that he doesn’t understand why he has help that are so worthless and can’t do their jobs right, she tells him that she has already explained to him that since his team quit that they were going to have to put in new staff with him and he agreed, this infuriated him and he started cussing at her and made her go get the Director of the OR. As the charge nurse steps out, he resumes the case and starts handing me the instruments back really hard and at one point he asked me for an instrument that was on my mayo stand and as I am reaching for it, he throws a mallet directly at the mayo where my hand was and it hit my fingers, I pull my hand back quickly and realize that it had ripped my glove. The rep asked me if I was ok and knowing the tension already in the room and that the patient was still under anesthesia, I didn’t want him getting even more upset, so I told her I was ok but could she please get me new gloves? Now the director walks in and knowing that all surgeries are recorded I figured she saw what happened before coming in so when she asked me if I was ok to finish the case, I figured she was talking about my hand, I replied by saying yes, I am fine he just hit my left hand I can finish with my right we are almost done. This sent him into a frenzy and started berating me leaning inches away from my face calling me names and saying I was so dumb I didn’t even know what end of the screw driver goes up and is in my face saying he did no such thing and so on and so forth. He is cursing at the Director as well and keeps throwing instruments. She expresses to him that since he is throwing instruments in her presence it doesn’t seem like a far leap to think one could have hit my hand. He stopped working and made his PA close the patient’s incision and I was told to report to her office after the case.
The case is over and I take my gloves off to see my middle finger and the top of my hand is red, hot, and swollen. I report to the office where I am greeted by the vice president, head of security, human resources, and my director and was asked to tell them what happened and not to worry about the surgeon because he was escorted out of the hospital by security.
I was sent to med express and told that I had a small fracture in the tip of my middle finger and a swan neck deformity with 0 degrees of motion at my initial visit. I was sent back to work the next day and when I couldn’t stand the pain I asked to leave and was made to go back to med express where they said there was a ligament injury and put me off work until I could see an Ortho surgeon. This is where the worker comp. night mare begins.
It has been a year since that awful day when my life got turned upside down. I have a permanent deformity and with Physical Therapy I have been able to gain 30 degrees of flexion in that finger and have shooting pains from the fingertip to my wrist. I am never able to work as a Surgical Technologist again because I only have 10 pounds of strength in my left hand and that makes me a risk to patients. I now suffer from PTSD with severe depression and anxiety as well as night terrors. I have never in my life been depressed, I didn’t believe in it and now I can’t figure out how to get out of it. Workers Comp. was paying me 2/3 of my pay but I still had bills that required my full pay so we were evicted and my husband lost his new truck. We had to move from our beach home to my home town that is so awful to raise my kids in and they are miserable. After moving, workers comp. decided I had been paid long enough and didn’t believe my injury was as bad as the doctors and therapists were saying, so right before Christmas, they just stopped paying me all together without even any notice. Now I have to prove my case to them when at first, they all seemed to be supportive and called me the victim. I only heard from the hospital representative long enough to give my statement and have not heard a word since. I am on food stamps and getting help from the government which is where I was before I busted my ass in college and worked my ass off for 8 years growing my career. I have lost everything and the surgeon doesn’t care nor does he have to. He will never know what his 10 min temper tantrum caused. I am now working from home as a customer service representative making 10$/hr. because it is the only job I can physically do at the moment and I get panic attacks when I leave my house or when I am out, I start sweating like crazy and get shaky.
I am not writing this for sympathy I am writing this because work place violence is a real thing and the mindset of “that’s just the way he is” days should be changed because work should be a place where you are safe from violence and bullying. This is just one case; I have heard of several others that this one surgeon alone has put a patient at risk because of his temper and they still just let him and others like him to continue to do cases because he is making them money and I the employee they have pay are the ones who get forgotten. The employee is getting the shit end of the stick and this type of thinking is only going to get worse if someone doesn’t take a stand and say THIS IS ENOUGH.