Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Finally caught up with the busy Dr. Gabriel Ramos, MD, oncologic surgeon and spent several hours with him in the operating room at IMSS (the social security hospital) for a couple of cases on Wednesday..  I’ll be writing more about him soon.

Dr. Gabriel Ramos, Oncologic Surgeon

Yesterday was a full day with clinics here and San Luis.  Also – more homework, so I have to get some studying in before heading back in this afternoon.

On the radio with Cartagena Surgery:

Recorded my very first radio interview with Ilene Little at Traveling 4 Health..  I hope I don’t sound too bad (when I get nervous, I laugh..)  It’s not a pre-determined format, so I didn’t know the questions until she asked them – which makes it more interesting, but I sound less polished as I search my brain for names, dates, places etc.  Trying to remember the name of the researchers who published a paper in 1998, 2008, or 1978 is daunting when you worry about ‘dead air’.. I was so nervous I was even forgetting my abbreviations.  I hope it comes across better to listeners.

We talked about the books, what I do (and how I am surviving on savings to do it).  We also talked about some of the great doctors I’ve interviewed, treatments such as HIPEC as well as some of the quackery and false hope being peddled by people with a lot to gain.. I kind of wish HIPEC and quackery weren’t in the same segment.  Since it was off the cuff – I didn’t have all of my medical references and literature to talk about to distinguish the two (so if you are here looking for information on HIPEC – search around the site – I have links to on-going studies, and research going back over a decade, both here at BogotaSurgery.org .  Of course, the crucial difference between the two is:

HIPEC is a new treatment, but there is NO assurance of success – in fact, some patients die from the treatment itself.

– There is a body of scientific literature on HIPEC for advanced abdominal cancers (ovarian, uterine, etc)

Quakery or pseudo-science can be a bit trickery.  Maybe they take an existing or  promising treatment (like therapies for stroke, Parkinson’s etc.) and apply it to something else – like treatment of serious cancers.  (Yes – people will find papers written about the ‘treatment’, but these papers may not meet scientific rigor, or may not be about the condition or treatment that they are receiving.)  They also promise miracles and cures.

In medicine, even the very best doctors and surgeons can’t promise these things – because medicine itself isn’t an exact science, and different people respond to the same treatments differently – ie. one patient may have complications and another patient doesn’t.

Lastly  – we just touched on it – but I think it’s an important concept – is patient self-determination.  That no matter what I, or anyone writes, does or says – people always have the right to determine their own medical treatment.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Today we are talking to one of my colleagues – Ms. Trisha Hutton.

Ms. Trisha Hutton, CRNFA

Ms. Trisha Hutton, CRNFA, ACNP (student)

Trisha is a certified registered nurse first assistant (CRNFA) .   She performs procedures in the operating room such as endovascular saphenous vein harvesting (EVH) for bypass surgery, and assists in other aspects of surgery, such as suturing, retraction and tissue dissection.

  Years in the operating room:   16

  Years working in cardiac surgery:  8

We’re talking to Ms. Hutton today about her current career and her developing role as an acute care nurse practitioner in cardiothoracic surgery.   Ms. Hutton is currently pursuing her master’s degree for certification in acute care, and will be part of a small but growing sub-specialty of acute care nurse practitioners in surgical practices.

As we’ve discussed during past posts; in the midst of a primary care crisis, advanced practice nurses such as nurse practitioners have moved to the forefront of the health care arena.  While NPs have worked (successfully) in this role since the creation of the specialty in the late 1960’s – the efforts of NPs in this (and other) roles are just now being recognized.

However, for nurses like Trisha Hutton, the increasing recognition (by surgeons) of the utility of nurse practitioners IN and OUT of the operating room is equally important.  So it’s important that nurses like Ms. Hutton receive the exposure to the public that may not always be aware of their role behind the scenes in caring for patients undergoing surgery.

What prompted you to return to school to become a nurse practitioner?

 “I felt like something was missing.  It was like chapters were missing from a book,” Ms. Hutton states, explaining that while she loves her current role, assisting and caring for patients in surgery – she wants to expand her role to encompass the care of patients outside of the operating room; from admission to discharge.

Ms. Hutton (pictured on the right) in the operating room

What drew you to cardiothoracic surgery, specifically?

I have always been interested in vascular surgery, and had been trained by and a vascular surgeon (Dr. Mark Donnelly) who I have worked closely with for many years.  When Flagstaff Medical Center started talking about beginning a heart program, I was immediately interested, and Donnelly encouraged me to be involved in it.  Also, because of our elevation (7000 ft), there was controversy about the success of our program, and that challenge excited me.

How do you see your role evolving after graduation?

To have the ability to continue my care to patients outside of the operating room.  I am looking forward to the opportunity to meet patients pre-operatively, participate in their diagnosis, operate on them, then continue their care through discharge.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I hope to continue practicing within the CT and vascular specialty, and be comfortable within my expanded role.

Who are your role models?

I began as nurse in the operating room 16 years ago, and was instantly attracted to the vascular specialty.  I developed a relationship with a surgeon named Mark Donnelly, a very respected and talented General/Vascular surgeon.  When I decided to become a RNFA, he supported me, acted as my preceptor, and taught me how to operate.  As mentioned earlier, when word of a heart program started, he encouraged me to join the heart team.  That was a bitter-sweet decision for me….learning CT surgery has been a fantastic choice for me and has opened many doors, but it meant leaving a surgeon that I truly enjoyed operating and spending my day with.  He has been such an important role model for me and “life” coach (advice ranging from career to parenting!!), and I still miss working with him. More recently, our current heart surgeon Dr. Steve Peterson has been an important role model to me.  I joined cardiac surgery with good assisting skills, but he has pushed and challenged me even more.  He continues to test me daily, teaching me the finesse of cardiac surgery.  Without him I would not be  successful within this specialty, and I would never have considered continuing my education.  He has given me endless opportunities, pushed me to grow, and I am very grateful for him.

How do you see the nurse practitioner role in comparison to other peri-operative roles?  Do you think NPs provide any unique perspectives or contributions to surgical care?

NP’s absolutely offer unique contributions to surgical care!  Especially if they have had perioperative experience prior to becoming an advanced practice nurse.  I believe continuity of care is an important factor in delivering high quality care to our patients, and if the NP can follow her patient into the operating room, that continuity of care can be achieved.  They see and experience first hand what occurs during surgery, which can aid in their post op management.

For instance, if closing an aorta post AVR and the aortic tissue is particularly fragile, the NP will know that post op blood pressure management will be even  more critical. If a different practitioner had been operating, that concern may not be communicated adequately.  The surgeon who practices with a NP First Assistant can feel at ease knowing that both HIS needs and the patients’ needs will be met.  The NP who is familiar with the patient will know just what the surgeon will want in the operating room, will have appropriate equipment, supplies, support staff etc available, therefore making the patients’ surgical experience smooth and uneventful. A first assistant that does not have that relationship with the surgeon or patient (ie family practice MD or TechFA) cannot offer that unique service.

Nurse Practitioners in the operating room?  Current issues and controversies

While this seems like a natural and normal progression for many nurses and nurse practitioners within the field – it isn’t as obvious to people outside the profession.  Many people including human resources personnel, staffing companies and the surgeons themselves have pre-conceived notions that exclude nurse practitioners, even those with extensive operating room (peri-operative) experience from assisting in the operating room.  That role is often exclusively assigned to Physician Assistants, often to the detriment of our profession, our nursing colleagues and the patients.

In fact, in this recent statement and study on the role of surgical assistants (2011) only mentions nurses as assistants as a side note.  It fails to recognize the different levels of qualifications (ie. a certified registered nurse first assistant (RNFA) versus a surgical technician (with weeks to months of formalized training).

Now, with the adverse economy, and changes in medicare regulations, nurse practitioners face even more competition for the operating room; the disenfranchised primary care physician.  In several of the facilities where I have worked in the past; more and more of these physicians were taking an active role in assisting in surgery.  These doctors, often primary care doctors ‘moonlight’ in the operating room as a way to augment their salaries.  Conversely, while these physicians had the least amount of surgical training, they were afforded the most reimbursement for their intra-operative role.    This array of peri-operative assistants has led to a wide range of skill sets in this patient care role with little research or comparison of effectiveness of these positions.

Ideally, the best ‘surgical assistants*’ would be patient care roles that encompassed the entire patient surgical experience from pre-operative evaluation to patient discharge, which is the spectrum of both nurse practitioners and physician assistants.  But only nurse practitioners can bring a holistic, patient-centered approach to this

* The ‘surgical assistant’ title like surgical technician/ technologist has also been designated to another career entirely, with similar focus.  However, in this post, we are using the term generically to refer to any individual (NP, RNFA, PA , MD or technician) who acts as an assistant to the surgeon intra-operatively, and performs procedures under the supervision of the attending surgeon.

References/  Literature surrounding nurse practitioners in the Operating Room

Hodson D. M. (1998).  The evolving role of advanced practice nurses in surgery.  AORN J. 1998 May;67(5):998-1009. Erratum in: AORN J 1998 Jun;67(6):1102

Pear, S. M., & Williamson, T. H. (2009).  The RN first assistant: An expert resource for surgical site infection prevention.  AORN, 89(6); 1093 – 1097.  No free full text available.
Schroeder JL. (2008).  Acute care nurse practitioner: an advanced practice role for RN first assistants.  AORN J. 2008 Jun;87(6):1205-15.
Wadas T. M. (2008).  Expanding the scope of acute care nurse practitioners with a registered nurse first assist specialty.  AACN Adv Crit Care. 2008 Jul-Sep;19(3):261-3.

Wadlund D. L.  (2001).  Graduate education: the perioperative nurse practitioner.  Semin Perioper Nurs. 2001 Apr;10(2):77-9

Zarnitz P, Malone E.  (2006).    Surgical nurse practitioners as registered nurse first assists: the role, historical perspectives, and educational training.  Mil Med. 2006 Sep;171(9):875-8.   No free full text available.
More about the Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA) role from the Association of peri-Operative Nurses (AORN).

Read Full Post »

Frankly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I returned to see Dr. Victor Ramirez.  I had enjoyed talking to him during the first interview back in November of 2011, but as most people know – a lot had happened since then.  It took me a couple of weeks to re-connect with the now somewhat wary and (media-weary) surgeon, but when I did – he didn’t hesitate to invite me to the operating room.  And then – after the first case, he immediately invited me back**.

Dr. Victor Ramirez, plastic surgeon

For readers unfamiliar with the concept of my work – let me tell you, this is usually an excellent prognostic indicator.  It’s certainly not fail-proof – but as a general rule; when a surgeon invites you to his operating room, he is generally confident because he is a good surgeon. 

You’ll notice a couple of things about the statement above – when the surgeon invites me, is important.  Often when I have to ask – it’s because the surgeons are hesitant to let me watch.  Most (but not all of the time) – there is a good reason that a surgeon doesn’t want an observer in their operating room.  (And there are a multitude of reasons – not just a poorly skilled surgeon.)

But there are certainly no absolutes.  I have met fantastic surgeons who initially were not crazy about the idea (but quickly warmed up to it) and I have met less than skilled surgeons who happily encouraged me to visit – and everything in-between.. I’ve visited great surgeons who were hampered by poor facilities, unskilled staff, or limited resources.  That’s why the on-site, operating room visit is so important.  Anything less, is well – less than the full picture.

But back to Dr. Victor Ramirez – in the quirofano (operating room) performing surgery.

Dr. Victor Ramirez, Dr. Perez and Ricardo (RN)

I observed Dr. Ramirez operating at two different facilities – Hospital Quirurgico del Valle, and the Bellus clinic.  Hospital Quirurogico is a private hospital – with excellent operating room facilities.  While there are only two operating rooms, both rooms are large, well-lit, new, and very well equipped.  There are three separate ‘big screen’ tv sized monitors for video-assisted procedures – so if you are looking for a facility for video-assisted procedures such as endoscopy, laparoscopy or thoracoscopy – this is the place.  All the equipment was modern, in new or ‘near-new’ condition.  As a facility specifically designed as a surgical hospital – with private rooms, patients are segregated from ‘medical patients’ with infectious conditions.  (The facility is not designed for pneumonia patients, and other medical type hospitalizations.)

Dr. Ramirez applied the sequential stockings himself (kendall pneumatic devices), and supervised all patient preparations.  Patients received a combination of conscious sedation, and epidural analgesia – so they were awake, but comfortable during the procedures.  (This eliminates many of the risks associated with general anesthesia – and reduces other risks.)  The anesthesiologist himself, Dr. Luis Perez Fernandez, MD was excellent – attentive and on top of the situation at all times.  There was no hypoxia or hemodynamic instability during either of the cases.  (I have been favorably impressed by several of the anesthesiologists here in Mexicali.)

Dr. Perez monitors his patient closely

As for the surgery itself – everything proceeded in textbook fashion – sterility was maintained, and Dr. Ramirez demonstrated excellent surgical techniques.

For example – One of the signs of ‘good’ liposuction (and good preparation) is the color of the fat removed.  Ideally, it should be golden or light pink in color.  Over-aggressive liposuction or poorly prepped liposuction results in more bleeding.  As I watched fat being removed – the fat remained golden-yellow in the suction tubing, and even at the conclusion of the procedure, the accumulated suction canister contents remained just slightly tinged pink.

Results were cosmetically pleasing in both cases with minimal trauma to the patients***- but there will be more details forthcoming in the free book (since the post is becoming pretty long, and may be more detail than casual readers would like.)  I’ll have more information about the doctors, including the anesthesiologists, the clinics and the procedures themselves..

I did want to post some specifics – especially in this case, as the patient told me that her/his parent is a retired physician and had concerns about surgical conditions.

Mom, Dad – you don’t have to worry – Dr. Ramirez runs an excellent OR. Even in the tiny Bellus clinic, there is a full crash cart, a defibrillator and an emergency intubation cart – just in case.

**Given what I know about Dr. Ramirez, I am pretty confident – that if I wanted – I’d be there right now, and every day for a month, or until I said, “stop”..  That’s the kind of person Dr. Ramirez is.

*** In some liposuction cases – the patients appear as if they have been beaten (extensive bruising) due to the amount of trauma and force used during the procedure.

Read Full Post »

This post is long overdue since I interviewed Dr. Jose Juan Durazo Madrid, MD, FACS almost two weeks ago – but as readers know, things have gotten pretty busy lately.  I’ve seen Dr. Jose Juan Durazo a couple times since the initial interview – but alas! I still haven’t talked my way into his operating room.

Dr. Durazo, who is a fellow in the American College of Surgeons is a primarily Spanish-Speaking general surgeon specializing in gastroenterology (endoscopy, and capsule endoscopy) and general surgery procedures such as cholecystectomies, appendectomies, hemorrhoid surgery and Nissen fundaplication for GERD.  H also performs surgery for cancers of the GI tract.  He performs bariatric surgery but reports that this is only a small portion of his practice.

Dr. Durazo has been a surgeon for 22 years.  After attending UABC (Universidad Autonoma Baja California) here in Mexicali, he completed his general surgery residency in Hermosillo, Sonora.

He now serves as a professor of surgery for his alma mater, in addition to his private practice.  He primarily operates at Hispano – Americano, Hospital Almater, Hospital Quirugico de la Valle, and IMSS (government facility.)

Hopefully, I’ll be reporting back from the operating room one of these days.

Read Full Post »

with Dr. Marnes Molina, Urologist

Spent the day with Dr. Marnes Molina, MD, a urologist here in Mexicali.  I initially met Dr. Molina by happenstance – in the hallways of Mexicali General Hospital.  After a brief chat we arranged for a longer interview and operating room visit.

Today, I spent the entire day in Dr. Molina’s company – first in surgery at one of the private hospitals, then his office on Madero Avenue, and then at another facility for another surgery.

Talking to the fluent English-speaking physician was a delight and a treat.  Since I don’t usually spent much time in urology – I do admit that I spent yesterday as a cram session reading about J stents and the like  so I would even know what questions to ask.  (Urology has come a long way since your basic lithotripsy.)

Dr. Molina performs a wide range of procedures – from treatment of kidney stones and ureteral obstructions, BPH, prostate cancer as well as continence restoring surgeries such as vaginal tape, and treatment of varicocele that may be contributing to infertility issues in men.

Today, for both cases, patients received conscious sedation – and both patients looked comfortable during the procedures.  (This also means that the associated risks of general anesthesia are avoided.) Everything went well – and quickly!

Dr. Marnes Molina (left) and his nurse in the operating room

Dr. Marnes Molina also tells me that he is the only urologist in the Mexicali area utilizing the green laser for treatment of benign prostate hypertrophy as an option instead of traditional surgery.

Dr. Marnes Molina Torres

Urology/ endourology

www.urologiamexicali.com

Madero 1059

Col. Nueva

Mexicali, BC

Email: marnesm@urologiamexicali.com

Tele (686) 553 6989

Expect to hear more about Dr. Molina soon..

References on Lasers in Urology

Lasers in urology (Grasso & Schwartz), 2008 Medscape.com article

Another Medscape article courtesy of Reuters Health on Green Light laser technology entitled, “Latest green-light laser effective for large prostate volumes.”

Read Full Post »

Haven’t had time to sit down and write about my trip to the operating room with Dr. Horacio Ham and Dr. Rafael Abril until now, but that’s okay because I am going back again on Saturday for a longer case at a different facility.  Nice surprise to find out that Dr. Octavio Campa was scheduled for anesthesia.  Both Dr. Ham and Dr. Abril told me that Dr. Campa is one their ‘short list’ of three or four preferred anesthesiologists.  That confirms my own impressions and observations and what several other surgeons have told me.

campa

Dr. Campa (left) and another anesthesiologist at Hispano Americano

That evening we were at Hispano – Americano which is a private hospital that happens to be located across the street from the private clinic offices of several of the doctors I have interviewed.  It was just a quick short case (like most laparoscopy cases) – but everything went beautifully.

As I’ve said before, Dr. Campa is an excellent anesthesiologist so he doesn’t tolerate any hemodynamic instability, or any of the other conditions that make me concerned about patients during surgery.

Dr. Ham  and Dr. Abril work well together – everything was according to protocols – patient sterilely prepped and draped, etc..

laparoscopy

laparoscopy with Dr. Ham & Dr. Abril

I really enjoy talking with the docs, who are both fluent in English – but I won’t get more of an interview with Dr. Abril until Saturday.

w/ Dr. Ham

with Dr. Horacio Ham in the operating room after the conclusion of a successful case

Then – on Wednesday night – I got to see another side of the Doctors Ham & Abril on the set of their radio show, Los Doctores.  They were interviewing the ‘good doctor’ on sympathetectomies for hyperhidrosis – so he invited me to come along.

Los Doctores invited me to participate in the show – but with my Spanish (everyone remembers the ‘pajina’ mispronunciation episode in Bogotá, right?)  I thought it was better if I stay on the sidelines instead of risking offending all of Mexicali..

Los Doctores

on the set of Los Doctores; left to right: Dr. Rafael Abril, Dr. Carlos Ochoa, Dr. Mario Bojorquez and Dr. Horacio Ham

It really wasn’t much like I expected; maybe because all of the doctors know each other pretty well, so it was a lot more relaxed, and fun than I expected.  Dr. Abril is the main host of the show, and he’s definitely got the pattern down; charming, witty and relaxed, but interesting and involved too.. (my Spanish surprises me at times – I understood most of his jokes…)  It’s an audience participation type show – so listeners email / text their questions during the show, which makes it interesting but prevents any break in the format, which is nice.  (Though I suppose a few crazy callers now and then would be entertaining.)

Dr. Ochoa did a great talk about sympathectomy and how life changing it can be for patients after surgery, and took several questions.  After meeting several patients pre and post-operatively for hyperhidrosis, I’d have to say that it’s true.  It’s one of those conditions (excessive palmar and underarm sweating) that you don’t think about if you don’t have – but certainly negatively affects sufferers.  I remember an English speaking patient in Colombia telling me about how embarrassing it was to shake hands -(she was a salesperson) and how offended people would get as she wiped off her hands before doing so.  She also had to wear old-fashioned dress shields so she wouldn’t have big underarm stains all the time..  This was in Bogota (not steamy hot Cartagena), which is known for it’s year-round fall like temperatures and incredibly stylish women so you can imagine a degree of her embarrassment.

It (bilateral sympathectomy) is also one of those procedures that hasn’t really caught on in the USA – I knew a couple people in Flagstaff who told me they had to travel to Houston (or was it Dallas?) to find a surgeon who performed the procedure..  So expect a more detailed article in the future for readers who want to know more.

Tomorrow, (technically later today) I head back to San Luis with the good doctor in the morning to see a couple of patients – then back to the hospital.. and then an interview with a general surgeon.. So it should be an interesting and fun day.

Read Full Post »

Just finished interviewing Dr. Horacio Ham, a bariatric surgeon with the DOCS (Diabetes & Obesity Control Surgery) Center here in Mexicali.  Later this evening, we’ll be heading off to surgery, so I can see what he does first-hand.

Tomorrow sounds like a jam-packed day for the young doctor, he’s being interviewed for a University television series on Obesity in addition to his normal activities (surgery, patients) and of course, the radio show.  Turns out his guest doctor tomorrow evening is none other my professor, the ‘good doctor.’

Sounds like a great show – so if you are interested it’s on 104.9 FM (and has internet streaming) at 8 pm tomorrow night..

I’ll report back on the OR in my next post..

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »