Tuesday, February 14, 2006


A long time ago, I mentioned that I would blog about my profession in the offseason. Well, considering that pitchers and catchers report on Friday, I'm thinking that maybe I'd better get a move on.

I am. . . (drum roll please) a certified registered nurse anesthetist, or CRNA.

What the hell is that, you ask?

I realized during my training that most people are clueless about nurse anesthesia. The profession has been called the "best-kept secret in healthcare" (although, so has hospice and chiropractic). Anyway, I can't tell you the number of times that I would introduce myself as a nurse, and yet within 30 seconds have the patient calling me "doc" or referring to me as an anesthesiologist. Allow me to prevent you, dear reader, from making such faux-pas (not to make you feel bad if you get it wrong, we're just all so much more impressed if you get it right). A nurse anesthetist is an advanced practice nurse with clinical training in anesthesiology. He/she holds a master's degree in science, nursing, or nurse anesthesia. An anesthesiologist is an MD or DO who has completed a residency in anesthesiology. Depending upon individual state law and health care facility policy, a nurse anesthetist and an anesthesiologist perform the same function, which is providing anesthesia services for surgery and other procedures.

Not surprisingly, because the professions essentially compete in the same market, there is a lot of conflict between the two. Much controversy has been generated over the roles that each profession envisions for its members. I work within one profession and with the other, so I don't want to really fan those flames here. However, if you are considering which type of anesthesia provider to choose, consider this: there has never been a single study showing a difference in outcome based on type of provider, and, nurse anesthetists are held to the same standard of care as an anesthesiologist (in other words, in a court of law, we get no slack because we're nurses instead of doctors). For more info click here.

This completes the educational portion of our programming. Thank you for your attention.

I'll periodically address health care issue here in this forum, although the focus will remain (as always) on baseball.

As far as healthcare issues, let me start with a simple directive: People, PLEASE! Clean your belly button!

Honestly, how long can it take to run a soapy finger in your dang navel while you're in the shower?!? And yet not a DAY goes by that we don't have people on the O.R. table who have CRUSTS in their umbilicus, with big chunks floating up when the circulating RN does the skin prep. And this is in people who otherwise appear to be fairly hygienic!

If it sounds disgusting, it pretty much is. But worse, it's an infection hazard. So many surgeries are done laparoscopically nowadays, in which small puncture wounds allow passage of specially built cameras and instruments. These surgeries allow quicker recuperation with less pain, and have basically made it possible for many procedures to be done on an outpatient basis, which before might have involved lengthy hospital stays. However, where is the first puncture wound made? Right through your navel. If stuff has been fermenting in there for months or years, there is only so much a skin prep can accomplish as far as infection prevention.

So break out the soap (or the SOS pads, if necessary) and scrub away! Your navel thanks you, as do I.


At 6:58 PM, Blogger Leah said...

I remember back in the day (wow, 9 years ago!) when I got my belly button pierced, the guy took a qtip and swabbed it out and then looked surprised because he didn't have much grossness on there. He said, "Wow, you're doing a good job already. Keep it up. Usually I have to give people the talk about how they're going to get infected if they don't start cleaning their belly button."

I was a little grossed out. But far less grossed out than I am after reading your stories!

Plus, if you write about health stuff if might take my mind of the fact that the Cubs did NOTHING this off season and have no hope. Whimper.

At 3:41 AM, Blogger danyah said...

They did nothing? I thought they went and spent lots of mo--oh wait, that was the Mets.


Yeah, stay tuned. I have some things that are just pet peeves, but I have some other things I'l blog about that I think are pretty important, but that people just don't know.


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