Editorial Response: A Surgeon’s View

C. Rollins Hanlon, M.D.

I am pleased to comment on Dr. Blitt’s brief editorial on patient safety in the face of pressure to .get the case going.”

I am highly sympathetic to his views for at least two reasons. First, I had a three-month anesthesiology rotation during my surgical residency in Cincinnati. From this brief experience I came to understand to some degree how things look from the other side of what used to be known as the ether screen.

Second, during many years of doing cardiac and other operations with anesthetic management regularly provided by a meticulous, deliberate anesthesiologist, I cannot recall ever telling this splendid person to speed up the process. I do recall many times when I was tempted to do so, but never succumbed because his performance was so outstanding, with an unparalleled safety record, that it seemed unwise to meddle with such superb clinical skills. If he wanted everything to be just right, it seemed obvious that this degree, of concern was in the patient’s best interest, as well as my own.

It is only speculation, but I would wager that those surgeons whose impatience led them to try to hurry this anesthesiologist got a polite response followed by the same meticulous preparation that was his trademark.

C. Rollins Hanlon, M.D.

American College of Surgeons Chicago, IL