Blood

The movies are right . The books are right . If you are a doctor sooner or later you will see blood and sometimes a lot of it.

From small injuries  to epistaxis to motor vehicle accidents and surgeries . Blood is everywhere . Ubiquitous is the word I think.

Believe  me I am as scared of blood as my five year old daughter ,maybe more. Still I do biopsies , lines , intubations if needed and all the usual stuff.  I pray I never have to see car wrecks or gunshots again and in my field I probably won’t but in my training I did, as all of us do.

So what to to if you are scared of blood but want to become a doctor . Well! fake it till you make it . (Courtesy Steven Tyler)

A jock friend of mine fainted the first time he saw a drop of blood . In our physiology lab we had to one out and each other’s finger for some lab work. Don’t remember what was the actual assignment . He literally fainted . Dropped flat on the floor with a bang. Now he is an anesthesiologist working in OR everyday.

Ii know girls who ran out of dissection hall and quit medical school  and I know the ones who ran out but did not quit medical school. Guess what ! The ones who did not quit did alright and the one who did quit did alright too.  But the one who did not quit got to be doctors , something they all wanted to do in the first place.

one word of advice for new residents and medical students . The blood you see is less then you think it is . A 100 ml bleed can look like a an entire pint of blood when it is spread flat on a surface . I m not telling you to be ruthless and careless. However if you placing a line or doing a biopsy don’t let a little bit of blood scare you into not doing it.  I would worry more about pain. Your procedures should be as painless as possible . Use that lidocaine.

One the other extreme is the daily labs . Almost no patient need daily labs but almost every one admitted in the hospital gets them.  If you have to get daily labs use pediatric tubes. Most of the blood that is collected is discarded. I know it’s only 5 ml in one tube but 5 of those tubes everyday for a week in an elderly severely ill person can take its toll. Because we as a doctor don’t actually see those tubes we don’t think about them. So next time you order daily labs if you absolutely have to , please order them to be collected in pediatric tubes.

I can go on and on on blood and may be I should. Some other day.