The Anesthesia Care Team:

what does it mean for me

The Role of your Anesthesiologist

“The anesthesiologist is a highly trained medical specialist with many different roles.”.

When a patient comes to the anesthesiologist, the first thing the anesthesiologist must do is talk with and examine the patient, as does any medical doctor, to find out about the patient’s medical condition and determine if the patient is in the best possible shape for the surgery. The anesthesiologist may contact the patient’s family doctor or surgeon to get patient records or test results. If further information is needed, the anesthesiologist may order additional testing. The patient may even be referred to another specialist if a new disease is discovered, or a previous health problem exists that poses a risk for surgery.

In order to properly evaluate a patient and interpret the test results, the anesthesiologist must have advanced understanding in the areas of cardiology, pulmonary medicine, critical care,general medicine and general surgery. After gathering and evaluating the information, the anesthesiologist plans the best anesthetic for that particular patient having that particular surgical procedure. The evaluation and planning stage may be long or short, but it is one of the most critical phases of administering anesthesia. It requires all the physician’s medical training and knowledge to support vital life functions while providing relief from surgical pain and stress.

The Anesthesia Care Team

“Anesthesiologists are patient advocates and place the comfort and safe of their patients first”

In some cases, anesthesiologists work with nurse anesthetists, much as other doctors may work with physician assistants. These nurses have completed a nursing degree, such as an RN. They must spend one year working in an intensive care unit as a nurse. Following this they must complete two years of training in the field of anesthesia. The nurse anesthetist helps the anesthesiologist carry out the plan that the anesthesiologist has formed during the initial evaluation of the patient. Under the direction of the anesthesiologist, they monitor the patient during surgery, or labor and delivery.

The anesthesiologist is a highly trained medical specialist with many different roles. Through training and research, anesthesia physicians are making anesthesia delivery safer and more effective for the patient. Anesthesiologists are patient advocates and place the comfort and safety of their patients first.

Preparing You for Surgery

“Before surgery, the anesthesiologist monitors the patient’s life signs using advanced electronic equipment. After surgery, the anesthesiologist continues to direct the patient’s treatment and recovery.”

When it is time for surgery, the anesthesiologist will carry out the plan previously developed. Usually, some medication is given to help the patient relax. Special monitors may be utilized before surgery to allow closer observation of the patient’s life functions during the operation. These monitors are placed using procedures for which the anesthesiologist has been specially trained. At this same time epidural catheters may be placed for pain control after surgery, as well as during the procedure itself.

Before the surgery begins, the anesthesiologist monitors the patient’s life functions, using advanced electronic equipment. The anesthesiologist then administers the anesthetic as planned. It may be general anesthesia in which the patient is completely asleep, regional anesthesia such as a spinal or epidural block, or local anesthesia. No matter what type of anesthetic, the anesthesiologist makes sure that the patient is comfortable and relaxed. The anesthesiologist uses the data from the monitors to ensure that the patient is also safe. In order to allow the surgeon to perform certain surgeries, the anesthesiologist may have to stop the patient’s breathing and provide artificial respiration for the patient.

The anesthesiologist also may have to lower the patient’s blood pressure, yet control it so that it is not low enough to cause a stroke or heart attack. If a catastrophe occurs during surgery, the anesthesiologist administers drugs, fluids, blood, or begins CPR while the surgeon works on the surgical problem.

These are just a few of the challenges the anesthesiologist meets every day. Yet, because the anesthesiologist is highly trained and monitoring equipment is so sophisticated, anesthesia is very safe. At the conclusion of surgery the anesthetic is reversed or allowed to wear off, and the patient goes to a recovery room or intensive care unit for observation. The anesthesiologist continues to direct treatment through contact with nurses until the patient is safely recovered from the anesthetic.