Volume 10, No. 2 • Summer 1995

Debate on OR Reading Provides Very Varied Views

W. Goldstein, M.D.

To the Editor

I am writing this in response to the issue “Is it O.K. to read during OR cases?’ which was raised in the Winter 1994-95 APSF Newsletter.

Obviously, the knee-jerk answer is that reading during cases is inappropriate and any anesthesia caregiver feeling the need to be politically correct will answer in this way.

However, I would like to make a number of points relevant to this question. First, I believe reading during cases is acceptable when it occurs during selected, appropriate cases. In cases requiring few, if any, anesthetic interventions over long periods of time, anesthesia personnel can, in reality, be found passing time in a number of different ways. Some may discuss sports or politics, tell jokes, talk quietly with OR personnel, doodle, daydream or stare at the monitors. Some may choose to read. We have all been in one or another of the above situations without compromising our care of the patient. I believe, therefore, that for experienced caregivers, the decision in this matter is a personal one. Each and every one of us knows how diligent we must be and, depending on the situation, can choose to read without reducing our effectiveness as anesthesia care providers.

Second, the issue of reading is all encompassing. In no way do I feel that an argument can be made wherein it is acceptable to read a medical journal, but a newspaper is taboo. Reading is reading. It may be cosmetically more appealing to read a Journal; however, in practical terms there is no difference. Cosmetics, however, may be quite politically correct.

In responding to Mr. Bostek’s query, therefore, I do believe that a caring, dedicated anesthesiologist may, in selected cases, choose to read and do so without, in any way, lessening the care being given to the patient. Understandably, this may not be for everyone, and, as an anesthesiologist, I feel I must limit my opinion to physicians.

W. Goldstein, M.D.