Author Question: Scythe Wound to the Chest (2/2)

We’re continuing with Sue’s question regarding a scythe injury to the chest to a seventeen-year-old male. You can find Part 1 here.

Sue Asks:

I have a few follow-up questions regarding the surgery. Is it possible for a thoracotomy to be done by two people? The hospital in my story is severely understaffed and only two doctors are available to perform the surgery. There are not enough nurses on staff either, and it’s the middle of the night. Is that feasible or should I tweak the story so more people are available to make sure the teen makes it out alive?

And lastly, what kinds of medications would be pushed through the IV to sedate and/or paralyze him for surgery?

Jordyn Says:

This was a great question to ask my OR expert friend, Kim Zweygardt, who works as a CRNA.

Here are her thoughts.

Most hospital’s policy states that an RN must be in the room for assessments and patient safety. The bare minimum OR staff would be a circulator (RN), scrub tech, anesthesiologist, and surgeon. If you want chaos in your story— take out the scrub tech because the doctor will have to figure out the instruments for himself versus calling out and them being handed to him.

A patient this unstable would be intubated in the ER. Generally they are given a pain medication (Fentanyl), a benzodiazepine (Versed) for the amnesic effect, and the paralyzing agent will vary but Succinylcholine was common in your time frame of 2006.

Once in the OR— they would give him anesthetic gases to keep him down. I don’t see your scenario playing out without a anesthesiologist on hand.

Hope this helps and best of luck with your novel.

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