Volume 10, No. 2 • Summer 1995

Reading = Distraction

Mack A. Thomas, M.D.

To the Editor

This is in response to the Winter edition containing a ‘Letter to the Editor’ regarding reading during administration of anesthesia.

In our department, we discourage reading of any type during the administration of anesthesia. Reading seems to distract from the ability of the anesthesia care provider to properly observe and monitor patients appropriately. It also creates a poor image that many of our surgical colleagues often have regarding anesthesiologists. Reading gives an impression of a lack of interest in the operative procedure and patient care. On the other hand, during a long case with a stable patient it may tend to maintain individual alertness by not allowing thought processes to drift or ‘mentally doze.’ As a rule, I feel it is inappropriate to read during the administration of anesthesia.

I have discussed this with several of my colleagues and they generally feel the same. Concerning the lack of attention during a protracted case, my personal preference is to increase the involvement and observation of the surgical procedure and monitoring. This may be accomplished by physically moving around in the room, observing the operation, discussing progress with the surgeon, etc. Even during prolonged procedures, I find this to be the best and most professionally appropriate method for maintaining attentiveness during a surgical procedure.

Mack A. Thomas, M.D. Chief, Anesthesiology

LSU School of Medicine New Orleans, LA