Posted by: notdeaddinosaur | February 2, 2009

Clear That Patient!

Hello Bloggers, and welcome to that fabulous new medical game show, Clear That Patient!


As you know, Clear That Patient! is all about balancing risks. Technically, of course, it is understood that the concept of “Medical Clearance” is flawed. It is sad but true that, taken literally, the statement, “Medically cleared” over your signature could be construed by an unscrupulous attorney as an assurance that all will go well, potentially leaving your hiney on the chopping block in the event of any misadventure. (“But doctor, you said the patient was cleared. Shouldn’t you have known he was going to have an MI in the middle of the procedure?”)

Your job, contestants, is to examine each of the following scenarios and decide whether or not, in your expert judgment, the benefits of the proposed surgical procedure outweigh the medical, surgical and anesthesia risks given the medical facts presented. Your final answer needs to reflect your opinion as to whether you can, in good conscience, allow the patient — as presented — to undergo the proposed operation RIGHT NOW. Possible answers include:

  1. Yes, go ahead.
  2. Needs further workup first, but okay if everything checks out.
  3. No way; not until the patient is better controlled.

It is also understood that the anesthesia, surgical and postoperative care will be the absolute best possible in all cases.

Ready? Okay then; here we go:



38-year-old male with a BP of 240/140 and a creatinine of 4 (refusing ER and hospital evaluation of headaches, melena and hematuria AND has blown off multiple nephrology appointments) presents requesting surgical clearance to fix his umbilical hernia.


65-year-old male requesting repair of a volleyball-sized scrotal hernia presenting at the hospital’s surgical clinic, found to be in atrial fibrillation.


35-year-old female, three pack-a-day smoker, diabetic with an A1c of 14, who needs a vaginal hysterectomy after multiple LEEP procedures who now has severe cervical dysplasia.


And now, contestants, for extra credit:

Guess which of these patients have I actually seen, either in training or in my practice.


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