October 18th, 2010


CardioExchange welcomes this guest post reprinted with permission from Dr. Westby Fisher, an electrophysiologist practicing at NorthShore University HealthSystem, Evanston, IL and a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine. This piece originally appeared on his blog, Dr. Wes.

I never like to hear “Um…” from nurses or industry representatives during surgical procedures.

Most people think that the worst thing you could hear while undergoing a surgical procedure is “Oops…” or “Sh*t”, but I would have to politely disagree.

You see, people working in EP labs and operating rooms never want to sound hysterical if they’ve recognized a problem during a surgical procedure. To do so might startle the operating physician and make them tense or angry. Instruments have flown for less.

So nurses and industry representatives are carefully trained to first say “Um…”

“Um, is his lead impedance always so high?”

“Um, is his blood pressure always 60 systolic?”

“Um, you wouldn’t have connected the atrial lead in the ventricular port and the ventricular lead in the atrial port, would you?”

But savvy surgeons recognize “Um” and act quickly, politely stating the obvious:

“High impedance? Boy, those old leads don’t hold up like the newer ones. Looks like we’ll be placing a new one…”

“Sixty? What do you expect when they’ve been NPO all night? Could we start some dopamine, please?”

“Leads reversed? Just making sure you were awake…”

So beware of “Um” and for surgeons, be prepared to act accordingly.

One Response to ““Um””

  1. Um is a transitional state. Better um than numb.