Lifestyle / Physical / Research

A day in the life of Dr Gillian Jacobs-Martin.

By Siphokazi Zama
Name

Dr Gillian Jacobs-Martin is a Specialist Anaesthetist practicing at Netcare Settlers Hospital in Grahamstown. Although every day is different, a day in her work life involves preoperative patient consultation, administering anaesthesia and teaching junior doctors. On this particular day, Monday the 6th of October, she joined Dr Petersen, the Orthopaedic Surgeon who had three patients scheduled for surgery.

Dr Gillian Jacobs-Martin in her office before surgery. She sees the patients in the wards to get their medical history. After that, she goes to the operating theatre to wait for the patient and the surgeon.

Dr Gillian Jacobs-Martin in her office before she goes into the operating theatre.

The operating theater before the surgeon and the patient arrive.

The operating theatre before the surgeon and the patient arrive.

After each operation, the operating theatre is cleaned and prepared before the next operation can take place. The staff also add any other equipment that the Surgeon or the Anaesthetist might need, depending on the operation being performed.

Dr Jacobs-Martin inserts an intravenous drip for the patient before the start of his surgery. This is to administer all the medications during anaesthesia. She also attaches monitors to the patient to observe vital signs throughout the operation.

It is not always necessary for a patient to receive general anaesthesia, which means they are they are totally asleep during the operation. They can discuss several options with the Anaesthetist. For example, this patient had an operation on his knee and could have just had the nerves going to his legs blocked while he stayed awake. This is called regional anaesthesia. He would have been awake and would be breathing on his own but he would not have felt any pain because his legs would be numb.

Propofol, infamous for killing Michael Jackson. Used in the correct setting, the drug is very safe to use and generally has no harmful effects on the patients.

Propofol, is an anaesthetic drug that is very safe to use in the correct setting. However, most people will recognise it as the drug that led to the death of Michael Jackson.

The surgery and the anaesthesia each carry their own risks. There are certain things that the Anaesthetist can prepare for based on the patient’s medical history. However during surgery, the Anaesthetist on duty responds as the situation unfolds in order to guide the patient safely through the procedure.

Through observing the patients heart rate, blood pressure etc, Dr Jacobs-Martin observes how the patient is reacting to the surgery and the anaesthesia and other drugs that she has given them. Depending on how they react, she can increases their dosage. She also gives them pain killing medication because even though they are sedated, their body still reacts to pain.

Dr Jacobs-Martin observes the patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels etc, to see how the patient is reacting to the surgery, the anaesthesia and other drugs that she has given them. Depending on how they react, she can increase their dosage. She also gives them pain killing medication because even though they are anaesthetised, their body still reacts to pain.

The view Dr Jacobs-Martin has of the patient as Dr Petersen operates.

The view Dr Jacobs-Martin has of the patient as Dr Petersen operates.

One of the big problems that any hospital has is trying to control infections. Therefore the Anaesthetist also gives the patient antibiotics to help them fight any infections they may have and to minimise the chance of them getting any post-operation infections.

Surgery can sometimes last for hours and stretching helps alleviate any stiffness or cramping the doctor might feel.

Surgery can sometimes last for hours and stretching helps alleviate any stiffness or cramping the doctor might feel.

Dr Jacobs-Martin also comes up with contraptions such as these in case the patient has extreme difficulty breathing.

Dr Jacobs-Martin also prepares devices such as these in case the patient has extreme difficulty breathing.

Sometimes, the patient’s airway is swollen and the doctors cannot insert a tube into the patient’s windpipe through the mouth. When that happens, they can use the above device to connect a needle and syringe to the patient’s windpipe and deliver oxygen to the lungs.

The closed wound of the patient as the surgery nears the end.

The closed wound of the patient as the surgery nears the end.

After the operation, Dr Jacobs-Martin checks on the patient to find out how they are feeling.

After the operation, Dr Jacobs-Martin checks on the patient to find out how they are feeling.

After surgery, doctors cannot accurately predict how the patient is going to react. Therefore these post-operative visits are important because the patient can then tell the doctor if they are feeling too much pain, or if they are nauseous or if they have any other unexpected symptoms.

She then discusses the information the patient has given her on how they are feeling to the nursing staff on duty and prescribes more medication if needed.

She then discusses the information the patient has given her on how they are feeling to the nursing staff on duty.

It is important for the doctor to write down any medication given to the patient and to tell the nursing staff what they gave the patient and how the patient was feeling. This helps decrease any chances of miscommunication between the doctors, nurses and the patient and to keep accurate medical records for the patient.

At the end of the day, Dr Jacobs- Martin makes her way home.

At the end of the day, Dr Jacobs- Martin makes her way home.

Most days end around four o’clock in the afternoon, but no day is the same. Some days end earlier or later than others.

Read more about Dr Jacobs Martin on our Healthy People page.

Advertisements

Tell us what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s