Dr Rebecca Jacob is a Consultant Specialist Anaesthetist and retired professor who worked for 38 years at the Christian Medical College and Hospital, Vellore, India.
A passionate, skilful doctor specializing in pediatrics, she is not afraid of speaking the blunt truth.
In the words of a colleague: ‘She doesn’t call a spade a spade; she calls it a shovel.’
Could she think of a case where a pulse oximeter had made the difference between life and death?
“All my cases!” she laughed. “I wouldn’t think of doing anaesthesia now without one, if I can help it.
“Oximeters have made a huge difference to our care of children, more than anything – because children do get hypoxic faster than adults, and it is more difficult to tell early hypoxia in dark-skinned children.
“It gives us an indication that something is going wrong, way ahead of it descending into an irretrievable situation.”
A professor of anaesthesia and an advocate of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist, Dr Jacob made it clear that the pulse oximeter alone does not save lives.
“We have to keep track of what’s happening, because monitors are just that. We cannot do without the human factors. That’s where the Checklist and teamwork comes in, and why the Lifebox education package provided with the pulse oximeter is so important.”