The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) has stated that surgery and anesthesia are safer than ever, but most patients do not know about the steps they can and should take to make their experience safer and more comfortable. According to J.P. Abenstein, M.S.E.E., M.D., president of the ASA, one of the most important things patients can do to make surgery as safe as possible is to have a detailed conversation with their physician anesthesiologist before any surgery or procedure.
The ASA studies revealed that most people are unaware of the role the physician anesthesiologist has in taking care of patients before, during and after surgery, and how patients can work with this medical specialist as they prepare for their surgery. Dr. Abenstein said, "Patients know that the physician anesthesiologist puts them to sleep before surgery but they know little about the medical care and services we provide. We encourage everyone to learn more about the importance of asking questions and sharing information about their lifestyle, health, family history and even their fears about anesthesia and surgery before any procedure."
In conjunction with Physician Anesthesiologists Week 2015 (January 11-17), ASA offers the following tips for a safe surgery and anesthesia experience-
1. Know who will be administering anesthesia. The anesthesia care team should be led by a physician anesthesiologist, a medical doctor specializing in anesthesia, pain and critical care medicine, who works with your surgeon and other medical personnel to develop and administer your anesthesia care plan. Physician anesthesiologists help ensure safe and high-quality care.
2. Meet your physician anesthesiologist. During this meeting, provide detailed information about your health and lifestyle because certain medical conditions and lifestyle habits can make a difference, and your doctor can adjust your care plan accordingly. Do you have diabetes, lung problems, kidney disease or any allergies? What medications do you take, including over-the-counter (OTC) and herbal/natural medications? Have you or your family ever had a bad reaction to anesthesia or pain medication, even several years ago? Even things that may seem minor to you can be important. Do you smoke? Do you snore? Do you have a sedentary life? How far can you walk?
3. Do not hesitate to tell your doctor that you are afraid. It is natural to fear surgery and anesthesia, and your physician anesthesiologist can give you information to put your mind at ease. Feeling safe is critical to have a positive and safe surgery experience.
4. Be prepared and ask any questions that may be on your mind. Do ask about the credentials and experience of your care team. You should also ask for any and all details you want about the procedure and the anesthesia.
5. Discuss about your recovery. The anesthesia care team continues to care for you even after your surgery. Ask your physician anesthesiologist about how your pain will be managed after your procedure and any concerns you have about recovery, returning home and getting back to your normal routine.