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A Piece of My Mind
July 21, 1999

The Blue Drape

Author Affiliations

Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1999;282(3):216. doi:10.1001/jama.282.3.216

There can be no more treacherous territory for a new third-year medical student than the operating room, in the middle of the sterile field. The slightest inappropriate touch, slip of hand, or bend of head can mean temporary banishment from the case by the surgeon, scrub nurse, or resident, as well as admonitory remarks about the designated sterile field. Eager for real medicine after two years of textbook study, I was enjoying the first week of my third year and looked forward to the big surgical case scheduled for that evening. I meticulously scrubbed, gowned, and gloved, then tried to stay out of the way while the surgeons carefully draped the patient with several green towels and large blue drapes. Calculating each movement to avoid contaminating myself, I took my place among the sterile green ranks and the operation began.

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