December 4, 1972

The Anesthesiologist and the Surgeon: Partners in the Operating Room

Author Affiliations

Mayo Graduate School of Medicine Rochester, Minn


by John P. Bunker, 158 pp, $8.95, Little, Brown & Co., 1972.

JAMA. 1972;222(10):1315. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03210100063041

Two years ago, Dr. Bunker documented what others had suspected: the number of operations in a given population varies directly with the number of general surgeons in that area.1 By suggesting that the United States had too many surgeons—and, therefore, too many operations—this professor of anesthesia (and who is better qualified to discuss the matter?) set off a debate that is still drawing comment. Such a man deserves an audience.

In the present volume, Dr. Bunker extends his concern to include various facets of anesthesia, as well as anesthesiology's relationship to surgery. He develops several themes: Anesthesiology has become a respectable professional and scientific discipline. The anesthesiologist should function as "the internist of the operating room." The surgeon and the anesthesiologist are (or, at least, should be) "partners" in the care of the patient.

As background, the author recounts the careers of three pioneers in modern anesthesiology—Ralph Waters, Robert