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September 22, 1951


Author Affiliations

Lincoln, Neb.

Chief, Department of Anesthesiology, U. S. Veterans Administration Hospital.

JAMA. 1951;147(4):319. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.73670210012007e

The surgical assistant's practice of resting his forearm on the patient's chest has long been a source of contention between him and the anesthetist. It is not denied that he does want some means of support; it is indeed wearying to hold one's hand in a single position without rest for hours, particularly while holding a retractor. On the other hand, the anesthetist's objection is not without justification. The fact that the assistant's task is tiring does not warrant his transferring his burden to the patient, whose chest cannot be looked on as an inert and insensitive object. I have heard more than one patient under spinal anesthesia complain of the weight of the assistant's arm. Surely it requires a considerable effort for a patient, conscious or unconscious, to lift an assistant's forearm with each inspiration. In addition, heavy drapes, numerous instruments, and even the patient's own stomach have been

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