One man’s meat is another man’s poison.

Your idea of what’s “safe” may give someone else sleepless nights of terror!

So this is always going to be a tricky trait to define – or adopt.

Personally, you may be a risk-taker who thinks it’s safe to

go base jumping
try whitewater rafting
drive fast without a helmet
do recreational drugs
have unprotected sex
or even… be on social media!

And that’s fine – as long as it’s your personal view.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that as a doctor… you’re playing a role.

Not being ‘yourself’.

Your role as a doctor should always be defined in the best interests of your patient.

And because all patients are not alike, and won’t have similar ideas of ‘safety’ as you, we must work from a broader, general idea of what safety means… to most people.

That way, even if you won’t satisfy all, you’ll at least conform to the perspective of a majority of the patients you treat.

Defined this way, it’s easier to decide what’s safe.

And act suitably.

Safety isn’t the same as caution, though.

You can be bold and safe. Carry out risky procedures, act daringly in a crisis, and still be safe.

Safety attempts to manage risk, and reduce the danger to everyone.

Yourself – and your patient.

As an intern, you’re placed in positions which are intrinsically risky.

You are exposed, at close quarters, to sick people. Often under sub-optimal conditions of protection or detection.

Anyone you see in an outpatient or emergency setting might harbor a deadly contagious germ.

It is critical to be constantly vigilant.

And make safe practices a routine – so you follow them without even thinking consciously about it.

As a resident in General Surgery, when I was woken up at 3 a.m. for a call, I’d stumble sleepily into the trauma ward and – on autopilot – pull on a pair of gloves before even turning to the patient.

It had become a habit.

And as we were right in the middle of the AIDS pandemic at the time, I’m sure it had life saving impact.

Safety is inconvenient.

It’s no fun to wear masks and PPE for long hours, especially in hot, humid weather conditions.

Safety is painful.

Having a vaccine hurts. Wearing double gloves makes your fingers cramp.

Safety is costly.

Disposable items are expensive. Proper protective gear isn’t cheap.

But when you contrast it against the inconvenience, pain and cost of the consequences of not being safe – it all pales into nothing!

Health is truly wealth.

So… better safe than sorry.

Have you read Dr.Sivasubramanian’s books on the making of a surgeon yet?

Read the other ‘Desirable Traits for Interns‘ here.

Published by DrSivasubramanian

Paediatric Heart Surgeon and Author -

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