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Deaths on the operating table

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 25 March 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:881
  1. Mel Jones, consultant orthopaedic and trauma surgeon
  1. Bangor

    The consequences of a patient dying during surgery have made headline news in the medical press recently. The message appeared unequivocal in the BMJ, Hospital Doctor, and BMA News Review. An operating list should stop if a patient dies on the operating table, and the surgeon should not operate for the rest of that day.

    The BMJ reported Professor Sir Alfred Cuschieri as saying, “My own view is that the death on the operating table of the patient is a harrowing experience for a surgeon. In my view, the surgeon is emotionally and mentally not in the frame of mind to continue to operate that day.” It was also stated that the sheriff conducting the inquiry agreed with this view. The president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh was also quoted as saying, “We can understand the pressure that single surgeons are under, but I …

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