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Uh oh...

You hit the panic button.


You have either made a mistake or you are curious. That's ok. 

This page is designed to give surgeons the help they need when faced with their greatest challenges. 

Mistakes happen
It's how you deal with them...

Stay Calm 

This is not the first time this mistake has happened and it will not be the last. Take a step away from the operating table and gather your thoughts / compose yourself.


Don't panic and try not to swear. Remember if you look in control you will feel in control. 

It could almost certainly be worse. 

Phone a friend

You are not alone. Now is the time to call in reinforcements. Who do you know and trust to give you good advice? A senior colleague? A friend or mentor? Is there an on-call or a group you can use to put out a distress signal. 

The anaesthetic and scrub teams will have their own ways of escalating situations if you ask. 

Do you need help from other specialities e.g. Plastics / Vascular? The hospital will have Silver & Gold commands who have additional resources available to them. 

Get the situation under control

Think about your options or say them out loud. It might help to get someone to write them down. Don't act impulsively. Is it safe just to pack the wound for a moment to give you space to breathe?

A bigger incision often helps but think twice before making a new one. 

What equipment would help? Blood? Cell Saver? Flowseal? Lighting? Retractors? Xray?  

Is this a problem that needs you it fix it right here & now or can it wait a minute / an hour / a day for someone with different skills or kit?

Have you searched this website for a similar complication?

Is everyone OK?

Once the patient is OK think...

Are you OK? Do you need time alone? Time on the phone? A cup of tea? Are you OK to continue or can someone else take over / cancel the list. 

Are your team OK? They may be just as distressed as you (or more). Arrange a time to debrief. Bear in mind they may be called on later as part of an investigation.  

Get it down on paper

You may well have to write a report / fill in a Datix so now is a good time to record what happened. Write yourself an email with:

- Date / times

- Names of people involved

- What happened, how you acted and why

You are going to need to speak to your indemnity provider sooner rather than later and they may be able to offer help and advice.  

Sharing is caring

If this happened to you the chances are it's going to happen to someone else before too long. 

Be brave. Share your trauma. Get comfort in knowing you are not alone and that you are helping others out. Consider presenting your mistake in your department and/or submitting to this website. 

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