The overwhelming majority of medical practitioners agree to remove all your jewelry before you enter the Operating Room(OR). Here the primary focus is to save lives first. Doctors and Nurses needed clear guidelines or a universal rule to follow in this matter.
What are the reasons behind this universal rule?
There is a possibility of burns from stray current during surgery. Electrocautery is a technique that uses a needle or any other instrument that is heated with electricity to seal blood vessels, remove tissues or make an incision.
Electrocautery helps controls the bleeding. If you are wearing jewelry, electricity can travel the entire body and through the metal, causing heating and burns to the area where you are wearing the jewelry.
Doctors and Nurses also fear the possibility of local swelling that may interfere with blood circulation in your body. In cases of a jewelry that is fixed by piercing, like an earring, the piercing area can become a breeding ground for bacteria and lead to dangerous infection.
- Loss, theft or damage to your jewelry
There is a lot going on in the hospital. You are fighting for your life and the medical staff is struggling to help everyone, not just you. Moving from one room to another, cleaning, decluttering, having many visits to your hospital room etc... can create a conducive environment for any loss, damage or theft of your jewelry.
Lawsuits may occur after surgery. For example, if it is not about the patient’s relatives complaining about a loss of their loved one, a recovering patient may complain that she had an expensive necklace and that is missing now.
There is a very high emotional connection to your piece of jewelry as we mentioned before. The value of your missing jewelry has nothing to do with the price shown on your receipt or the receipt of whoever gave it to you. You may not even have that receipt handy as a proof of purchase after 50 years.
In this case, your jewelry is priceless and if it is missing from the hospital, the hospital may have to pay a lot to compensate you. There is another face of the medal. Suppose the real value of your jewelry is 1.5 million. Anyone who can put her hands on them will have this strong temptation: “I wish they were mine”.
Challenges of law enforcement
There are also stories of deliberate damage to the jewelry for law enforcement purposes. Let’s consider the situation of Lucy, this 90 years old lady. Lucy received a pure gold wedding ring from her husband when they got married. She was 18. She never removed her ring from her finger since then.
This time, she requires a very serious surgical operation to save her life. Her husband died before her 49th marriage anniversary celebration. She is very emotional about this terrible loss and separation. She is reluctant to remove her ring because she feels that it would be a sign of betraying her deceased husband.
However, the nurse is adamant. The ring, if it can’t be removed safely from the finger, it has to be destroyed before the operation can start. She insists that since the operation is not about the finger, her ring should stay. What do you do in this case?
The best solution for you
If you are going for an operation, then remove your jewelry and leave it home. If you can’t remove it by yourself, the medical staff will conduct an inventory and remove safely your jewelry.
The doctors and nurses will help prevent any irritation caused by pressure sores on the body during general anesthesia. They will keep it safely for you to retrieve when you are ready. They will take care of the areas of your body from where the jewelry was removed by disinfecting and sealing the space left by the jewelry with non-metal devices, harmless during the operation process. They will make sure you obtain the right spacers or non-metallic temporary devices until the operation is over. Then they will reverse the entire process and put back your jewelry based on body location and the type of jewelry you are wearing.
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