February 2, 2018
By Steven Barrett
Many of us or our loved ones facing surgery are often concerned about the risks involved with the surgery itself. Whether it is the surgeon cutting a wrong part of the body or worrying about the risk of infection, the anesthesia that we receive can and is just as important with its own risks.
Most people understand the term “general anesthesia.” This is understood as the patient being completely unconscious and not aware of anything that is going on during the surgery. The anesthesia is administered by an anesthesiologist, who is a full-fledged medical doctor. Not only does the anesthesiologist make sure that the right amount of anesthesia medication is given during a surgical procedure, but the anesthesiologist has to evaluate the patient before the procedure to determine if there are any issues unique to the patient.
Whether the patient has existing breathing problems, is obese, suffers from high blood pressure, or has allergies to certain medications, are some of the types of things that an anesthesiologist must know to ensure the safety of the patient. These medical profiles affect and influence the type anesthesia that can be given as well as what the anesthesiologist should monitor during the procedure. An anesthesiologist does not merely administer medication throughout the surgical procedure, but also must be highly vigilant in monitoring all the vital signs of the patient to make sure that the patient is not undergoing any distress or is acting adversely to the medication. This means tracking and keeping check on things such as blood pressure, respiratory rate, heart rate, and pulse oximetry (the amount of oxygen in the blood). Also, patients must also be made safe by making sure hospitals and even surgical centers have the right protocol and personnel in place. For example, although many procedures can have anesthesia administered through a certified registered nurse anesthetist, an anesthesiologist must still be in the surgical theater and available should any issues arise.
The role of an anesthesiologist is therefore quite critical for a successful outcome in a surgical case. Anesthesiologists must be fully aware of the patient’s medical profile and must constantly be vigilant in evaluating the patient during the surgical procedure. Even once the procedure is finished and the surgeon has completed her role, the anesthesiologist must still ensure that the patient is recovering well and is coming out of the anesthesia post-surgery without any complications.
Although it always seems to be the surgeon who is the central character involved with any surgical procedure, the anesthesiologist is a vital and critical member of the team for the surgery to be successful. We always recommend to clients that whenever surgery is to be undertaken, the patient develops a good and solid rapport with the anesthesiologist before the procedure. There should be a free flow and exchange of information between the anesthesiologist and the patient, and there should adequate time involved with the anesthesiologist’s preoperative evaluation. To be given the bum’s rush could mean disaster.
If you have questions, feel free to contact our firm.