Volume 4, No. 1 • Spring 1989

Plea for Best Judgment on Stepping Out of Room

Richard P. Fogdall, M.D.

To the Editor

Re: recent discussions of the propriety of an anesthesiologist stepping out of the operating room. The responses of Drs. Zauder and Jenne stating never are just absurd. No one would condone abandoning a patient. However common sense needs to enter here somewhere As in all aspects of our practices, JUDGEMENT based upon individual circumstances is key.

Are we really to believe that the anesthesiologist who properly monitors his/her patient with auditory and visual (and recorded) data is condemned if he/she steps just outside the door to avoid total body repetitive x-rays? Or condemned if when splattered with blood steps outside the OR door to wash off the nasty stuff while observing his/her patient/monitors through a glass window? PURE FANTASY! Under such conditions, with a stable patient, those actions are prudent and appropriate, not indicative of neglect. Judgement, gentlemen. (We are not talking about leaving the patient to go sit in the lounge!)

Dr. Figueroa’s story was fun. And he was right! If faced with his predicament, I would do the same, and sleep well at night. There is no “never” to this question facts and circumstances, folks. Woe the day when there is no flexibility in our lives to take the best care of all of our patient. Re-think this one, guys.

Richard P. Fogdall, M.D. Friant, CA