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The Little Things that Matter


Wound inspections are a vital part of surgical rounds, especially in a plastic surgery rotation. I remember thinking it was a test of the quality of the camera in my phone more than anything else. That all changed after a senior chided us for being mere photographers, instead of Clinicians – it was expected that if a wound did not look in a good state, that debridement and cleaning should be done. This completely changed my perspective, and I must say it gave more meaning to my job and certainly a greater sense of fulfillment.

Sure enough, wound inspections took an hour sometimes, as I patiently debrided slough off bedsores, diabetic feet and burns wounds. However, my reward would be the certainty that I was making a difference in patient care, and a sometimes grateful patient. The work is unglamorous, and effort put in certainly not compensated for, but necessary nonetheless!

Unglamorous tasks are often the most crucial – wound toilette, cleaning patients, suctioning tracheostomy tubes—simple things that 'anyone' can do, but sometimes it is important for doctors to be that 'anyone'.  Especially if allocating it to someone else would mean that a patient stays covered in sputum for the next one hour, when it would have taken me only five minutes to do.

I recall what another senior taught me even before I entered Residency, that even simple things like how micropore tape was cut and placed mattered—because if it looks good, the allied health would be more inclined to take better care of the wound, but if it looked as if the surgeon did not really care about the wound, then certainly the rest of the healthcare team may be less inclined as well. Patients themselves will also feel more dignified if their external appearances were kempt.

If I ever need medical attention, I hope the medical team taking care of me would pay a little attention to the unimportant little things.