Is it acceptable for an RN and an anesthesiologist who are engaged to work together in the OR?


Dear Nancy,

I work in an operating room where a nurse and an anesthesiologist who are engaged also work together every day. She circulates the cases where he is the anesthesiologist. Is this acceptable? Many of my coworkers feel it is inappropriate.


Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Ida,

Your question did not indicate what the OR staff found inappropriate about the engagement of the nurse and the anesthesiologist, and it is assumed that the facility does not have a policy prohibiting such work relationships. Questions that come to mind about it include: Are either of the two not performing their duties as required? Is the circulating nurse, who is at a lower work status than the anesthesiologist, getting breaks or special treatment from him?

Many employers have a zero tolerance for work relationships while others do not. Governmental facilities, such as a state university health center, have more difficulty establishing and enforcing a zero tolerance for work relationships due to the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights and state constitution’s governance of employers individual freedoms in the workplace, such as freedom of association. In contrast, private entities have more freedom to establish and enforce such policies. An interesting reference you might find helpful is “Zero Tolerance For Hospital Romance?” American Medical Association Journal of Ethics (2010), 12(1), 16-22, available at Virtual Mentor, (

If you and your fellow staff members are concerned about the relationship, speaking confidentially with your periOperative CNO will help provide some guidance for you. It will also alert him/her to any issues that might arise in the workplace due to this relationship.


About the author 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *