MISSING—ONE KNIFE

The operating room was gleaming with the multiplied perfections of modern equipment. Not only was everything spotless, but the cool, conditioned air was constantly subjected to the purifying light rays which reduced even normal bacteria to a minimum.

Two surgeons, along with residents under training, were standing motionless in their pale green sterilized gowns and caps, their faces partially covered by germ-inhibited masks.

Both the chief surgeon and his first assistant were men whose years of arduous training and experience had earned for them certification in their surgical specialty. They were members of a number of learned societies. The elder of the two had only recently been honored by his associates by being made chief-of-staff of the hospital, and just prior to that he had been the president of a society of distinguished surgeons.

The patient, draped with sterile sheets and towels, was breathing deeply as the anesthetic began to take effect.

Then the anesthetist looked up and nodded his head. The patient was ready.

On the Mayo stands and the tables adjacent to the operating table there was a shining array of instruments, each designed for a specific purpose—clamps, clips, retractors, spreaders, scissors, sutures of various kinds—everything needed to facilitate the operation.

The surgeon finished draping the patient, already thoroughly prepared by scrubbing and the application of antiseptic solutions. Then, looking around he took up first one instrument, and laid it down, and took up another, and laid it down.

No incision was made! He did not me the knife.

Fingering the various instruments, the surgeon went from one to the other, looking at one, making futile passes with another.

It was a strange pantomime. ...

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