Death on the table: preparing for the inevitable


  • Marcel E Durieux University of Virginia Health Systems


“The death on the operating table of the patient is a harrowing experience for a surgeon”1 – and it is no less so for an anaesthetist. We are in this business to save lives, and losing one is therefore a potentially very traumatic event. Nonetheless, it is only relatively recently that significant research has been performed in the area of perioperative catastrophes and their effect on the operating team. The topic was breached most forcefully when, in 1998, one UK surgeon suffered two intraoperative deaths on the same day. This led to guidelines by the Royal College of Surgeons, published in 2001, and a number of survey studies of surgeons and anaesthetists. Most of those studies, however, were performed in Europe, a few in the USA, but none in the southern hemisphere. It is exciting, therefore, to see published in this issue of SAJAA a study investigating the experiences of South African anaesthetic registrars after a perioperative death.

Author Biography

Marcel E Durieux, University of Virginia Health Systems

Professor Departments of Anesthesiology and Neurological Surgery University of Virginia






Guest Editorial