Volume 9, No. 4 • Winter 1994

Is It OK to Read During OR Cases?

C. Carl Bostek, Lt. Col.

To the Editor

Since beginning my anesthesia career in 1977, I have ofttimes seen anesthesia practitioners reading novels, newspapers, magazines, and even, sometimes, professional journals during cases. When I attempted this myself, I realized that I sometimes neglected my charting, did not notice significant events, or did not hear questions addressed to me by the surgeon. I decided that reading during cases was not a safe practice and ceased to do so other than to look up a quick reference. Recently I was shocked when our Chief of Surgery said that he had never seen an anesthesia provider who did not read during cases.

I believe that distracting oneself from monitoring one’s patient results in a lack of vigilance that could lead to a problem. But some of my peers feel that modern monitoring equipment with built-in alarms makes reading during cases, especially regional anesthetics, an acceptable practice. I would like to see a discussion of the practice of reading during cases -both related medical literature and non-medical “pleasure reading” -in an open forum such as the APSF Newsletter. C. Carl

Bostek, Lt. Col., USAF

Chief, Nurse Anesthesia Services Elmendorf AFB, AK