Why can’t I be in the procedure room with my child under anesthesia?

This a very common question I get when I talk to the parents of the patient.  It is a common standard that is applied everywhere in the US.  I think most parents will have a hard time finding a surgery center, hospital, or anywhere that provides anesthesia that allow the parents to be in the room with their child during anesthesia.  There are several reasons for that, and that is why nobody wants to take the risk of having parents in the room.  I will outline some of the more common reasons here:

1.  Patient Safety.  During the procedure, there is always a chance that some emergent situation can occur.  At that time, every second counts.  We will not be able to answer any questions and interference can results in very unsafe conditions.  We as health care providers would need to provide life saving support without distractions.  As you can imagine, in a emergent situation we are trying to focus as hard as we can on your child, and any distraction from the parents could possibly impair our judgment.  Just like in an airplane.  Passengers are not allowed in the cockpit, especially during take-off and landing.  I am sure the pilots know what they are doing and I leave the control of the airplane to them and not me.  I know everybody wants to have control over their child’s safety, but you will have to trust the doctors and me, just like you trust your pilot.

2. Parent’s Safety.  We are also concerned about YOU!  Not everybody can handle to visual of blood, having their child out of their control.  We also tape their eyes and head to protect them.  It is not an everyday sight to see, and you may not like it.  Why stress yourself?  Some parents claim to be able to handle blood and emergent situation, but when it comes to your own child, things will change.  If anything were to happen to you, we are not equipped to handle two unconscious patients at the same time and it would lead to a dangerous situation.

3.  Space.  Space is limited!  Some procedure rooms are small.  We must always have 3 people in the room when a procedure is happening.  The fourth person in the room maybe become cumbersome, and access to my equipment may be hampered.  Again, seconds count, and all that shuffling around is losing time.


“I want to make sure the doctors are doing what they are supposed to do!?”

By law, we are required to have 3 people participate in the procedure.  With me, there will be two doctors, and an assistant.  Some doctors like to work with two assistants with one on stand-by to grab miscellaneous equipment or just help out.  I am sure we are all here to help your child.  If you do not find me or the other doctor trustworthy, then maybe you should find someone you do trust.

“I’m pro! I can handle blood and gore.  That’s what I do!”

I definitely heard that before, and when that parent held their child while I give an injection they almost passed out.  It is very different with your own child.  I had another father who would not consent to the procedure because he was not allowed in the room, but later agreed.  After everything was done, he was so nervous he kept throwing up in the bathroom and couldn’t watch his daughter recover.

“Can I sign a waiver, where you won’t be liable if I pass out or become manic?”

You can not consent for sub-standard of care.  The law will always favor the consumer, and even if you sign something like that we are still liable.  Same for taking a taxi home by yourself after anesthesia.  It is like, “Hey, I wanna get in trouble, just let me do it in your office.”  To protect myself and the staff at the office, this will not be allowed.

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