Doc S4F

I played one for four years in the Navy as a Corpsman.  That’s pronounced Kore-Mon. (You white-house scum bag).  It’s what you hear Marines yell when they’ve been hit.  While bullets are whistling past your ears, your focus is to put someone’s intestines back in their belly and throw an “abdominal dressing on it, and get them to a stretcher.

I saw my share of action but only after I had gone to Operating Technology school.  In the military, they trained Medics or Corpsman to assist in surgery.  This is why I was such a good one when I got out of the military.

Being a surgical tech was a new vocation in the country when I got out.  I was fortunate to get a “go nowhere job” with the government at the Naval Hospital in Oakland.  From there, I went to the private sector and worked for Plastic Surgeons and then eventually once Surgery centers popped up, I worked in the outpatient arena. (No call)  In the mid-1980s the Government came out with a medical reform called D.R.Gs or “Diagnostic Related Groups”.  It created “reasonable reimbursement rates for medical/surgical procedures”.  By the time this had happened, I had gotten a degree in Business and I was selling operating room stuff trying to “Make lots of money”.


Because of the cut backs in medical reimbursement; the good old days of medical sales were over.   So I went back to the operating room.  The pay was not that good but it was steady.  Then in the early 90s to 2000, Insurance companies and the government stopped paying for an assistant to help the Surgeon.  As you can see in the pic above, you need a competent extra set of hands in surgery to hold things still or to suppress bleeding while the surgeon cuts what he’s trying to resect.

When Endoscopic Surgery came out I was working at Stanford University Medical Center.  I was the surgical tech/assistant all the doctors AND under studies (Residents) wanted to work with.  Many of them said I was a better surgeon than a lot of the staff doctors they had to rotate with.  (I was fortunate because I would get to work 10 hours a day with some of the greatest Doctors at Stanford.  (These were usually private, not university doctors).

“But it’s not about me”.

During the 90s I saw my salary double.  But I’m not here to talk about my career.  I’m here to comment on the state of surgery.  The patients I worked on were lucky because I had a long history and experience in surgery.  I had really good hands.  In most cases I could have done the surgery myself.  In fact I was going to write a book of all of the bad or new surgeons and the mistakes I stopped them from making. (I’ll save those stories for another day) Today they have these vocational schools that teach kids how to hand instruments to doctors and that’s about it.  In the Navy, you were expected to sew up the patient while the doctor went to another room.  That’s a huge difference in the learning curve.

In some operations, that second set of hands needs to be very experienced and confident as well as competent.  Most of the surgery I’ve had, I’ve been able to pick my anesthesiologist and assistant to work with my surgeon.  But I’ve seen cases where that extra set of hands was just an extra set of hands.  The tech couldn’t put their finger on a set of shoe strings to help you tie your shoes, let alone, find a hole in a blood vessel and clamp it off.  So as my pay doubled, the quality of surgery declined across America.

When I look back, some of the best compliments I’ve ever heard were from a stressed out doctor who said: “I’m really glad you were there”.  At some hospitals when I was watching the new breed just out of the Bryman school, I had to turn my head and walk away, thanking God it wasn’t me on that table and appreciate the thousands of patients I did work on.  I can only see the quality of medical/surgical care diminish with Obamacare.

But it will keep the Lawyers happy and in the end, killing off 25% of the population is how you jumpstart communism right?

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