Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Scalpel Snapped by Design

No, Mr. Boucherie, get a larger blade
  (+4, -10)(+4, -10)
(+4, -10)
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Surgeons, like most of us, have a tendency towards being lazy or bloody-minded at times. Small scalpels are easier to use, and once a surgeon has cut back the fried chicken layer and exchanged a larger scalpel for a smaller one he's naturally inclined to stick with it.

If he wants to work with cartilage / gristle, that's fine. He can keep cutting with the same little blade. 99.5% of the time. If you are the unlucky patient, he'll be overloading the blade, it'll snap, the disconnected end will slip sideways into something important, and the other end will fly with all the force he was using to embed broken scalpel into something you wanted to keep intact.

Cutting to the heart of the matter (but hopefully not with a snapped blade); surgeons using undersized blades for heavy work is a really bad idea.


A snapped scalpel is much less serious if it it snaps under low load as it is easier to control and has less force behind it to do damage. Therefore, scalpels should have pre-cut fracture lines with nice gentle curves designed for failure at much lower forces than the current blades fail at.

It will lead to an increase in snapped blades temporarily, but as surgeons get used to having to always overengineer their blade gauge the broken blade incidence will fall back to present levels. The lasting difference will be that breaks will be altogether less damaging altogether.

vincevincevince, Dec 01 2007


       Just like an Olfa blade.   

       I don't think that weakening surgical scalpels would be a very good thing to do.   

       Sounds vaguely governmental--solving a problem that doesn't exist by creating that very problem.
ldischler, Dec 02 2007

       Speaking as someone more likely to be a patient than a surgeon, I'm altogether for surgeons not breaking off knives inside of me. Dunno about deliberately weakening the blades altogether, but if that's the only way to get you bastards to just use the right tool for the job...then I'm altogether neutral, leaning towards [-]. Altogether, it seemed like a good idea when I started the anno and then I changed my mind. Altogether.
Eugene, Dec 02 2007

       I don't mind having bloody-minded surgeons, just so long as they're cross-matched.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Dec 02 2007

       Put a torque-limiting pivot just behind the blade; press too hard and it unlatches, thus limiting the force that can be applied. The blade doesn't brake, the device can be reset quickly.
8th of 7, Dec 03 2007

       I was just going to mention torque limiting. Too slow.
MisterQED, Dec 04 2007

       Torque limiting is a better idea, I agree. The only downside, compared to the original idea, is an increased cost of production.
vincevincevince, Dec 07 2007

       Hell with cost of production when it comes down to little razor sharp metal shards in vital organs.
rascalraidex, Dec 07 2007

       I did not realize that snapped scalpel blades was a common problem. The flying blade part of the problem could be solved by having a plastic coating on the flat metal of the blade. It would be analogous to the plastic layer in automobile windows that prevent glass shards from flying everywhere.
bungston, Dec 07 2007

       Do we have any numbers on how often this actually happens?
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 07 2007

       Until stats show otherwise, I don't believe this is a problem. And regardless, I don't believe this is a solution. [-]
david_scothern, Dec 08 2007

       Simpler solution. On the back edge of the handle, near the front where the forefinger rests, add a sharpish point. The surgeon will then only be able to press so hard before pricking himself. Heavier-duty scalpels have blunter points, allowing the surgeon to press harder.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 08 2007

       // able to press so hard before pricking himself //   

       Yes, but by that time he might have pierced his surgical glove and compromised asepsis.   

       Better to have a srain guage in the scalpel which links back to as small shock device; press hard, get a mild tingle, press too hard and it hurts.   

       Most (though not all) doctors are sadists rather than masochists, so this should be reasonably effective.
8th of 7, Dec 09 2007

       My plumber knows when to use needle-nose pliers and when to use channel locks.   

       Find a competent surgeon.
nomocrow, Dec 10 2007

       Just make the scalpel of dull plastic, thus rendering it perfectly safe (-)
GutPunchLullabies, Dec 11 2007


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