Same-Day Surgery Manager

A compilation: Lessons that I've learned

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

After a talk I gave last month, someone came up to me after the meeting and asked me this question, "After all the years you have been doing this [surgical consulting], what are some of the things you have learned?"

I sort of blew off the question with a short quip, but the more I thought about the question, the more I wondered: What have I learned? I enjoy writing, fiction mostly, but I can and do plan on writing a book about my experiences in this industry. The following will certainly be within the pages:

  • I learn something from everyone I meet. It could be a surgical tech, the instrument processor, or the CEO. Everyone has a story, and if you listen, you can hear it.
  • If you build it, they will come. Oh, no they won't!
  • The rudest people are the loneliest people.
  • Surgeon's perceptions are reality. Don't confuse them with facts. Demonstrate with actions. • Ninety percent of the meetings I've ever attended were a waste of time.
  • Vomiting just comes with our industry.
  • A screaming child in PACU is mostly scared and needing a hug rather than in pain and needing a shot.
  • A pre-op patient that says they are going to die during surgery should not have surgery that day.
  • If I had to be stranded on an island — I would want an OR nurse with me.
  • The louder the people talk, it seems like the less they know, but don't want you to know it.
  • Breaks in surgical techniques happen more than we realize. We can thank our immune system for keeping us out of trouble.
  • I use to think that a good "boss" could not be a good "friend" to the people he or she worked with. I've changed my mind on that.
  • Every "rep" works off of commission. I have bought many a surgical product not fully understanding that!
  • It often costs more to store the equipment after the orthopedics trade shows then the equipment itself cost.
  • Most administrators are afraid of the OR staff. Way to go!
  • It just plain is not true that the older the building, the greater the character! It is actually the older the building, the more odors it has.
  • Old patients are just as scared as young patients in pre-op.
  • Some staff members are content where they are in the scheme of things and do not want added responsibilities.
  • Lastly: Sometimes things are just meant to be.

I know that many centers are having a slowdown in activity and reimbursement from Medicare and Medicare is getting tougher and tougher. I do see turnaround but not in the near future. We all need to dig in and ride it out, because it will get better.

I talk with a lot with people in the industry that think they understand what is going on — (I don't think they really do!) but they all feel that all of us are in the right place at the right time. Hang in there. [Earnhart & Associates is a consulting firm specializing in all aspects of outpatient surgery development and management. Contact Earnhart at 13492 Research Blvd., Suite 120-258, Austin, TX 78750-2254. E-mail: Web: Twitter: @SurgeryInc.]