As a medical practitioner, you’ve probably encountered situations where you were required to perform surgery. Your practice either had an in house anesthesiologist or brought in an experienced professional for the procedure.
For those who may not be aware, an anesthesiologist is a person who administers and monitors the performance of the drug used to put people to sleep so that surgeries can be performed. The drug or combination of drugs is generally known as an anesthetic, while anesthesia is the practice of administering anesthetics.
If you were a patient receiving anesthetics before surgery, you not only remember this medical professional at your side, you recall the positive or negative effects of the drugs they gave you.
Below are some tips that will help you manage your anesthesiology practice better, or if you’re scheduled for surgery, to ensure you have the best experience possible with anesthetics.
1. Outsource the anesthesiology function of your practice to a qualified medical professional
Anesthesia is a specialist area of medicine. It requires someone who is trained to ascertain which combination of drugs will be best for the patient, as well as someone who can react to life-threatening contraindications quickly.
Even if you are yourself a highly qualified medical practitioner, you are likely only trained in your area. To lower the risks to patients’ lives, it is best to contract an anesthesiologist to perform this role at your practice.
2. Read up on improvements and developments in anesthesiology
If you are an anesthesiologist, you need to keep up with the latest news in your practice area. This would involve reading medical journals, attending association meetings and conferences, or even taking short courses to upgrade your skills and understanding.
Like with all sciences, there will be new finds within the field. To be the best practitioner, you need to know what they are and implement them in your practice, otherwise, you’ll find yourself left behind by your colleagues.
3. Get detailed patient information before procedures
An anesthesiologist has to administer a combination of three different drugs to patients:
- An analgesic (to help with pain)
- An amnesiatic (to render the patient immobile)
- A muscle relaxant
Before giving the patient any of these, the anesthesiologist must have a detailed idea of their medical history. The patient may be taking drugs or herbal supplements that might react badly with any of the above listed components.
This is why the anesthesiologist needs to meet with the patient to talk with them. This will help them understand what may be the best course of pre and post operative care for them, as well as help them be better prepared for any eventualities during the patient’s surgery.
4. As a patient, be frank with your medical professionals
In connection with the above point, as a patient, you may save your own life by providing the anesthesiologist with all the information they need to keep you safe while performing your surgery.
Have an honest discussion about what other drugs and herbal supplements you may be taking, as some of these have been known to prolong bleeding or strengthen the effects of the sedatives being given to you.
If you’ve had surgery before, remember to tell the anesthesiologist about any side effects you may have experienced after regaining consciousness. They may be able to mitigate those by using a different combination of drugs.
Being properly prepared before being given an anesthetic helps you as a patient handle it better. You should:
- Not eat or drink anything at least 6 hours before the operation
- Tell the medical team if you have certain medical conditions
- Tell the medical team if you allergic to latex or rubber
- Tell the medical team if you have numbness or weakness in your extremities
- Tell the medical team if you have problems with bleeding or clots
5. Invest in quality equipment and maintenance
Along with being a specialist field, anesthesiology requires specialist equipment. While your area of expertise may extend to one, it may not extend to another. It is best to leave sourcing and anesthesia equipment maintenance to a professional company with experience doing so. Most of these companies are also able to provide advice on supporting services your practice may need.
Getting supporting services for your practice is something you should outsource, because again, no one can be an expert in all things.
6. Build a solid relationship with your consulting or in house physician anesthesiologist
Surgery is a team sport. Having a good relationship with the professional administering the anesthetic is vital to quality patient care.
Your anesthesiologist, whether in house or contracted, should have access to all the information you do and should work well with the other members of the surgery team. If they aren’t able to, it can result in mistakes being made on the patient’s chart and wrong dosages or combinations of the anesthetics to the patient. This can result in injury or death of the patient in extreme cases.
To help the physician anesthesiologist work well with the team before, during and after the surgery:
- Allow them to interview the patient before the surgery to get a comprehensive medical history. This allows the anesthesiologist (and their team if they happen to be working with one) to anticipate if the patient will have issues while immobilized and prepare in case the patient has a bad reaction to the anesthetic.
- Have a pre-designated response protocol if the patient does react badly. During actual surgery, there will be little time for coordination between the surgeons, assistant staff and the anesthesiologist. The team must be prepared to respond to emergency situations as a unit. Be prepared to change anesthesiologists if this is not happening.
- Allow them to set up a post surgery care session for the patient, where they can assess how the patient is responding to the after effects of the anesthetic, as well as help them manage any pain arising out of their surgery.
Administering anesthetics is a serious matter. It is hoped that you treat it with the seriousness it deserves by following these tips to handle them better.