Letters

Surgeons' attitudes to intraoperative death

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7308.341/a (Published 11 August 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:341

Cardiac surgeons might have different attitudes

  1. Norman Briffa (Norman.Briffa@btinternet.com), consultant cardiothoracic surgeon
  1. University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, Coventry CV2 2DX
  2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, USA

    EDITOR—Smith and Jones found out the attitudes of several surgeons to the edict from Sheriff Albert Sheenan in Scotland.1 I suspect, however, that if the same questionnaire had been sent to cardiac surgeons, the response might have been different.

    There are essential differences in the significance of intraoperative deaths between cardiac and non-cardiac surgery. In cardiac operations the patients are being kept alive by the heart-lung machine while the surgeon operates on the heart, and it is only at the end of the procedure that an attempt is made to persuade the patient's heart to take over the circulation. After gastric surgery, the patient is not expected to eat a large meal immediately after. Similarly, after lower limb surgery the patient is not expected to …

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