Volume 10, No. 1 • Spring 1995

Surgeon Sees Widespread OR Reading

Editor’s Note: The following letter arrived via an unimpeachable source. The surgeon author requests anonymity out of concern for his relationships with his anesthesiology coworkers. After verification of the authenticity of the letter with its author, an exception to the usual policy on identification of letter writers is made and the letter appears here.

To the Editor

Through my anesthesia colleagues, I am familiar with your publication. I heard about the letter asking whether or not reading during surgical cases was appropriate behavior.

As a general surgeon in a medium-sized city who operates in six different facilities, I know and work with at least 40 anesthesia providers, both physicians who do their own cases and CRNA’s supervised by anesthesiologists. It is my observation that virtually all the anesthesia providers who care for my patients read material not associated with the case during these anesthetics, specifically novels or the Wall Street journal. Some do crossword puzzles. At least half at some time or another work on a portable computer (often apparently related to personal financial matters). It seems that the first year in practice, new anesthesiologists and anesthetists are much less likely to do these things but then start, while the oldest providers are the most Rely to read or be otherwise occupied.

In truth, it did not occur to me that it might be any different or a debate question. This appears, at least to me, a universal practice. Am I correct or, for some reason, am I exposed to a skewed sample? Please advise. Thank you.

Name and location withheld by request.