Friday, October 15, 2004


We reopened the patient's abdomen along the previous incision to find that the newly transplanted pancreas had become ischemic and turned the color of blueberries. No, change that to blackberries. A far cry from the healthy golden yellow it was just 7 hours ago. The staff surgeon and I looked up from the wound and stared at each other.

A string of explitives exploded from the staff surgeon. The newly transplanted organ was unsalvageable, the surgery was a failure, and this would be added to the M&M list.

M&M list? Unfortunately, not a list of our favorite candy coated chocolate colors. Instead, Morbidity and Mortality.

M&M has truly facilitated the advancement of medical treatment on a clinical level. The presentation of failures and complications from the previous week allows others to learn from your mistakes. Surgeons of varying subspecialties and expertise attend the conference, offering fresh perspectives and suggestions on how a dismal outcome might have been avoided. Unfortunately, those suggestions can also come with a hefty dose of berating criticism.

It's not very fun standing in front of an auditorium full of staff surgeons presenting a slide show called "How I Screwed Up."

It looks like I'll be spending some time with Powerpoint for my M&M presentation this week.