“Operation” Is No Longer Fun and Games, Experts Say
Tonight, trouble brews in the medical community, as an old controversy shoves its way into the modern-day. Old conventions threaten to be overturned, and institutions doubt themselves. The cause? An Ithaca alumnus named Stephen Newell, a man who spent many hours during his education playing the Operation board game. Has this given him false, dangerous ideas about the medical practice?
Reportedly, the game was introduced to the man through one of his teachers, Dr. Jim Stewart, who used it in the classroom as a teaching tool. “It was never intended as anything serious,” said Stewart. “It was only meant as a model or a demonstration. While it has been long embraced as a surprisingly accurate representation for certain types of surgeries, it does fall short in several major ways when compared to actual medical experience.”
What harm has this “model” already caused? For more, we turn to Sarah Bilham, our subject’s current supervisor. “Stephen’s a good worker and a good doctor, really,” said Bilham. “It’s obvious that he made the right choice when he picked ‘medical professional’ out of three randomly drawn cards from the career deck as everyone does when they graduate college. He just has some bad habits he needs to unlearn.” As an example, she brings up a recent operation that she had to step in on. “It was a routine Comically Large Object Removal Procedure (CLORP). Any dedicated surgeon will do hundreds of them over their careers. He had the patient open when he accidentally brushed against the side, and he just freaked out. He had to be removed, and I was forced to complete the operation by myself. He honestly thought that he’d killed her.” As Bilham went on to elaborate, the game had given Newell the false impression that his small slip-up would have caused rubrum nasum pulsum, colloquially known as buzzy-red-nose, a sign of serious internal bleeding and a likely precursor to death. While avoiding contact with internal walls is important to any CLORP, a small brush is not enough to cause the onset of RNP.
This is not the only issue Newell’s faulty knowledge has caused. Recently, he was written up for performing an unnecessary procedure to remove a patient’s butterflies from their stomach. While stomach butterflies can occasionally become malignant and cause damage to their human hosts, they are for the most part mutualist symbiotes and entirely harmless. Due to the commonality of these unnecessary operations, the stomach butterfly is now considered a vulnerable species, despite the valuable role they play in pollination when they fly out of their hosts’ mouths in the night.
This case has drummed up old controversies about the board game’s use in the medical community across the nation. Many are asking if a game made in 1964 should have the right to appear in modern classrooms when the science behind the game has oftentimes moved on. Many point to the recent rise in ankle-bone-connection-to-knee-bone surgeries as another of Operation’s damaging legacies. While originally thought to aid in joint health at the time of the game’s release, it is now thought to either have no effect or to be slightly detrimental, and many now say that it cannot be considered anything other than a cosmetic surgery.
No matter how everything ends up, there’s one man whose future has certainly been darkened by the game: Stephen Newell. According to Bilham, “It’s simply difficult to trust him on any operation now, for me and the other doctors, and while most of his bad behaviors can be trained out, that sense of trust will be more difficult to regain. I find it highly unlikely that he will ever make it to the other end of the board and have a second, upside-down version of himself placed on top of him to represent his promotion to hospital administrator.”
Peter Tkaczyk is a third-year writing major who has played Scrabble often enough to be a highly respected writer. You can reach them at [email protected].