More “No’s” to Reading: Reading During Case Can Lead to Sub-optimal Care

Janet N. Siler, M.D.

To the Editor

In response to the question, ‘Is it OK to read during OR cases?” My answer is “No!’

Having worked in university hospitals, university-affiliated hospitals, small community hospitals, with only anesthesiologists, with anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists, and with primarily nurse anesthetists under the supervision of anesthesiologists, I can recall only one instance where the majority of the department agreed to allow reading in the OR. This was with one surgeon who took 6-8 hours to perform an A-V graft on the arm using local anesthesia and monitored anesthesia care. And even in this rare instance, if the patient was not manifesting stable vital signs, the anesthesia care team member was not allowed to read.

Regardless of the type of reading material, any concentrated effort other than on the care of the patient is an unsafe practice that is a distraction and can result in sub-optimal patient care.

The practice of reading in the OR should strongly be discouraged and, in most instances, not permitted at all.

Please add my vote for ‘No!’ to your survey question.

Janet N. Siler, M.D. Staff Anesthesiologist

Cinnaminson, NJ