Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Can I Watch?

It's one of the more common questions I hear from family members before I take their loved one into a procedure: "Can I watch?"

For me, the answer is simple: no.

Fortunately, when I explain my rationale, most people come to understand why this isn't such a good idea:
  • First, the doctor performing the procedure has enough to think about without having to be a tour guide to a family member. Even something as simple as a pacemaker battery change can go very wrong if an operator is distracted long enough to accidentally reverse the atrial and ventricular leads when they are reattached to the new pacemaker pulse generator.
  • Second, if something should occur that is unexpected during a procedure, a doctor needs to focus on the problem at hand without having to deal with the physical and psychological well-being of a family member also.
  • Third, the operating room has all kinds of unusual sights, sounds, and (often unexpectedly) smells to which many people are not accustomed. If a family member becomes lightheaded, nauseous, or hits the deck as a result of these powerful stimuli, it can make for a very long (and embarassing) day indeed.

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