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Role of the Anesthesiologist

Anesthesiologists Play a Critical Role, Before, During, and After Surgery

Pre-op

Diagnose underlying medical conditions and their impact on surgery, and determine whether the patient can safely undergo the procedure

Intra-op

Provide appropriate anesthesia levels to maintain life functions during otherwise painful surgical procedures; medically diagnose, treat, and optimize medical emergencies and surgical problems that arise.

Post-op

Ensure continuity of physician-led medical care and pain management for a faster, less painful recovery, shorter hospital stays and reduced re-admissions


Provide Safe and Effective Multi-Modal Pain Management

Anesthesiologists and pain medicine specialists are on the front lines of fighting the opioid epidemic.
They are leading experts in utilizing non-opioid pain medicine options including interventional procedures and non-pharmacological approaches. 
They work with patients to implement tailored pain management plans to ensure optimal recovery. 


Increase Efficiency & Reduce Healthcare Costs 

Physician involvement can reduce costs by avoiding over-utilization of tests, over-prescribing medications, and excess referrals to specialists. 


Save Lives & Improve Health Outcomes

Physician Anesthesiologists

  • 20% reduction in adverse events with physician led care
  • 50x fewer deaths due to physician anesthesiologist efforts

Nurse Anesthesiologists

  • 35% higher anesthesia mortality rate when nurse
Download Visual

Ensure Oversight & Lead the Care Team  

Some healthcare facilities use an Anesthesia Care Team made up of multiple providers under the leadership of anesthesiologists: 

Physicians (MDs) – Leaders of the Care Team

  • Anesthesiologist
  • Anesthesiology Fellow
  • Anesthesiology Resident

Non-Physicians – Members of the Care Team

  • Certified Anesthesiology Assistant
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthesiologist (CRNA)
  • Student Nurse Anesthetist
  • Student Anesthesiology Assistant
  • Medical School Student
Mandatory Training

Physician Anesthesiologist

  • 12-14 years of education after high school
  • 12,000-16,000 hours of clinical training

Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

  • Total of 5-7 years of education after high school
  • Median of 1,651 hours of clinical training

Patients want Physician-led Care

A survey conducted by the American Medical Association found that:

  • 91% of respondents said that a physician’s years of medical education and training are vital to optimal patient care, especially in the event of a complication or medical emergency.
  • 86% of respondents said that patients with one or more chronic diseases benefit when a physician leads the primary health care team.
  • 84% of respondents said that they prefer a physician to have primary responsibility for the diagnosis and management of their health care.
Download Care Team Visual Graphic

Anesthesiologists On the Front Lines of COVID-19

Anesthesiologists have been leaders in the heroic response by our nation’s healthcare providers to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and save lives. To address immediate needs in hospitals and other healthcare settings, anesthesiologists’ role as specialized physicians expanded from perioperative and pain medicine to emergency response, critical care, and crisis management. 

The Critical Role of Anesthesiologists During COVID-19 

  • Leading specialized COVID airway intubation teams.
  • Flexing into critical care settings.
  • Working with hospital administrators on creative approaches to expand capacity and prepare for surges.
  • Creating consensus-based guidance.
  • Facilitating the sharing of best practices for the treatment of this novel disease.
  • Contributing to information management and data tracking.
  • Facing personal risk in the pursuit of patient care

Uniquely Qualified to Safely Manage COVID-19 Positive Patients

Anesthesiologists have education, training, and expertise in pumonary physiology, critical care medicine, ventilation strategies, resuscitation, intubation, and pain management. These skills are uniquely valueable in safely managing COVID positive patients in critical care settings.

Prioritizing cases based on expertise

Many surgical procedures were delayed due to guidelines calling for cancellation of elective procedures to preserve hospital system capacity and PPE supplies in anticiaption of a surge. Anesthesiologists worked on “Surgical Review Committees” to determine what cases should move forward and which could be delayed during the crisis.

Moving into critical care roles

Anesthesiologists were abvailable to flex into the critical care setting and servce as a relief valve when there was a shortage of critical care doctors.

Treating Pain Patients Safely & Effectively

Pain medicine specialists used telehealth to ensure continuity of pain management treatment. This required anesthesioligists to follow rapidly changing rules and regulations for prescribing, billing, and treating patients.

Physician anesthesiologists have been on the front lines saving lives and serving as a trusted voice advocating for proven public health meausres to reduce the risk of infeection and minimize transmission for the virus.

Download COVID-19 Visual

Resources

View All
Podcast
CSA Podcast – Vital Times
Ludwig Lin, MD, and Rita Agarwal, MD, FAAP, FASA
Sustainability
CSA Sustainability in Today’s Healthcare
Carole Lin, MD, and Victoria Fahranbach, MD
Practice Management
Practice Management Surveys
History
Vital Times 2023
California Society of Anesthesiologists
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