While it is generally held that the surgeon may recognize the patient’s need to pray before surgery and should be respectful if prayer is carried out in her presence, bowing his or her head as the patient, spiritual leader, and family have a moment of prayer, it is less clear whether it is appropriate to join in, or lead a prayer, at a bedside. Usually, the quiet presence of the surgeon will be sufficient to convey a sense of respect for the importance of this act to the patient.
Explore This IssueJanuary 2017
Finally, the surgeon should be cognizant that her bedside manner does not go unnoticed by the other members of the healthcare team, and this role modeling sets a positive example for every professional who has contact with the patient throughout the perioperative course.
Dr. Holt is professor emeritus in the department of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.