Same-Day Surgery Manager

What annoys you? Readers respond

By Stephen W. Earnhart, MS
Earnhart & Associates
Austin, TX

Last month I wrote about my annoyances in the surgical environment, and I obviously touched a nerve for many of you. I received 45 emails with issues that upset you and our staff as well:

  • Cell phones. As with me, cell phones were at the top of your list as well, but yours dealt with patients who were on them. Facilities have signs that ask you to turn them off when you enter the hospital or the surgery center. Many of your complaints dealt more with patients (be fair: and/or family members) who were checking in and would hold up the "just one minute finger. They keep yapping away, which holds up the check-in process. More sympathy for you I could not have.
  • Children. All children aren't irritating — just the ones that are running around the waiting room with no parents to keep them in check. I must admit it is news to me that this issue is ongoing for some centers.
  • Overhead paging. Several responded that muffled or garbled paging systems are a strong source of agitation to many. Some members of the staff have figured out that if you lift the corner of the ceiling tile next to the speaker, there is a wire that plugs into the unit that can unplugged. Less caffeine also helps.
  • Parking spots that cannot fit an American car. This complaint I can understand. Those narrow little strips of white paint that make it impossible to get out of your car without proof of insurance drive me nuts, too. I asked a real estate developer about it. She said that the average parking space costs about $12,500 to build, that they were indeed minimum standards in width, and everyone wants to get as many spaces in as small an area as possible.
  • Locker size. Four complaints about the size of the lockers in the change areas. It's hard not to agree with that.
    Related to above: Why does the women's locker room has the same number of lockers as the men's, but the female staff members outnumber the men by three to one? Good news: Most new facilities being built today are addressing that issue.
  • Anesthesia cleanup. (I think we all know where this is going.) I suggest a number of you get serious about cleaning up after yourselves. Some of the complaints hinted at physical dismemberment.
  • Dirty dishes in lounge. It should be clear by now that most of the staff do not clean up after themselves and never will, no matter how insulting your messages. It is time to give up and buy disposable.
  • Time clocks. Unprintable responses from facilities that require staff to punch in.

Thanks for sharing your annoyances. I'm interested in hearing how you've addressed these issues. Send me your ideas. (Earnhart & Associates is an ambulatory surgery consulting firm specializing in all aspects of surgery center development and management. Contact Earnhart at 1000 Westbank Drive, Suite 5B, Austin, TX 78746. E-mail: Web: