[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
August 29, 1977

Is the Operating Room Unhealthy?

JAMA. 1977;238(9):970. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280100054025

It is an often repeated truism that physicians are careless of their own health. It is therefore surprising to find a growing body of literature dealing with the health experience of men who work in operating rooms.

Starting with the study by Vaisman1 in 1967, numerous surveys in many countries2-8 claim that female operating room personnel, particularly anesthetists, have a higher abortion rate than controls. Some studies even indicate an increased abortion risk in spouses of anesthesiologists.2 Of greater concern is the claim that children of anesthesiologists are more likely to have malformations than the children of other physicians.3,5 Furthermore, there seems to be an increased risk of malignant neoplasms in operating room personnel, particularly female anesthesiologists.3 All of these surveys have been criticized because of flaws in the methodology, invalid statistical approaches, or bias in the selection of test populations. Nevertheless, the weight of