Volume 10, No. 2 • Summer 1995

Issues Are Not Absolute; Aspersions Inappropriate

John K. Hall, M.D.

To the Editor

I am prompted to write by the recent letters regarding reading in the operating room. I am unconcerned about the argument per se. I am very concerned about the language used by those expressing opinion There are few systematic data to support either side of the argument. In spite of this paucity, contributors have impugned the honesty, integrity, and professional devotion of many practitioners. If we are to be viewed as credible scientists and professionals, we must not stoop to casting aspersions about our colleagues based purely on personal bias.

A negative answer begs the question: ‘Aren’t all distractions the same?’ Is there really a difference between reading and a friendly discussion with the surgeon regarding politics, investments, or professional sports? Is music a distractions Who completes post-operative analgesia orders or answers pages from the recovery room during a case? Lastly, who among us sits silently amid the buzzes and beeps speaking to others only as regards contemporaneous patient care issues and attending to nothing else? It is no more inconceivable that if there are those who can perform the activities I’ve mentioned, then perhaps there are also those who can read during a case. Is it possible that reading might be compromised rather than care?

If we abandon respect for diversity of professional skills and data-driven scientific integrity in favor of emotional and opinionated ‘stone throwing’ we should be very careful. The stones may bounce back.

John K. Hall, M.D.

Nemours Children’s Clinic Jacksonville, FL