Espresso or Cappuccino, Professore?

Pediatricians recommend later start times for school because it helps children be more alert and ready to learn. When it comes to Operating Room start times, perhaps physicians should practice what they preach.

Fewer than 1 in 5 middle and high schools in the US began the school day at the recommended 8:30 a.m. start time or later during the 2011-2012 school year, according to data published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Too-early start times can keep students from getting the sleep they need for health, safety, and academic success, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Maybe we should reconsider Operating Room start times and move them up from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., too. Of course, since the opportunity costs of a minute of OR time can exceed $200, the hospital bean counters will push back. But, just think of all the benefits:

1. Hospital staff will be more refreshed.

2. Patients won't have to get up at ungodly hours to be at the hospital if they are the first scheduled case.

3. Staff will more likely to start the cases on time

4. Doctors won't have to disturb already sleep deprived patients at 6 a.m. when they make morning rounds.

5. There will be some time to "warm up" for the day with nourishing breakfast instead of an Egg McMuffin from the McDonalds located in the hospital lobby.

6. You have some time to introduce yourself and have a conversation with the other members of the OR team.

7. You'll have time to change into a clean scrub suit from the one you wore last night while driving from ER to ER while on call.

8. You'll have time to jump start your dead battery in the morning and still get to the OR in time.

9. Day care arrangements will be easier.

10. You can still beat the rush hour traffic.

I once has the honor of being a visiting professor at a university teaching hospital in Italy. I just assumed, erroneously, that we would be starting at O'dark hundred like silly Americans do, so I showed up at 7am. I was met by a nurse who informed me that things wouldn't be starting until 8 or 9am and perhaps I would enjoy an espresso or cappuccino in the surgeons’ lounge instead. Indeed. A much more civil way to start the day, signora. Mind if I have another of those delicious biscotti's?