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BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 17 August 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:366
  1. A J Gibbons, specialist registrar, maxillofacial surgery (
  1. Morriston Hospital, Swansea

    “Don't get stressed,” said the senior nurse in charge of emergency operating theatres. “I've been here 10 years, and things have always been the same.”

    “Let me run this past you again,” I replied, “I am the registrar on call for maxillofacial surgery, and my consultant has a patient with a fractured mandible who needs an operation. The patienthas already been waiting 18 hours, and, therefore, his chances of postoperative complications haveincreased. It is 8 50 am: I am ready to operate, you have nursing staff available, and an anaesthetist is here. However, you are reluctant to …

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