An anesthesiologist is a physician who has completed at least four years of specialty training in anesthesia after earning a doctorate from a four-year medical school and a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college. All of our anesthesiologists have completed the rigorous requirements of the American Board of Anesthesiology and hold board certification or eligibility in anesthesiology.
While some other anesthesia departments leave your care to assistants, your South County Hospital anesthesia physician will be by your side every moment of your surgical procedure. He or she will be personally responsible for your comfort and safety before, during, and immediately after your surgical procedure.
Why is there a preoperative interview?
Your anesthesiologist must regulate the function of every system in your body during your surgery and anesthesia, so it is important for him or her to know as much about your health history as possible.
An anesthesiologist will carefully review your medical history, discuss the anesthetic choices, discuss their risks and benefits, order laboratory tests, electrocardiograms, and prescribe medication for you.
Due to scheduling complexities, the physician you meet during your interview may not be the physician that takes care of you on the day of your surgery. You will meet the physician who will personally administer your anesthesia immediately before your surgery. At this time, your anesthesiologist will review your entire medical chart compiled by his or her colleagues to learn about your needs and medical conditions.
If you are having a minor procedure, you may not be required to make an appointment with an anesthesiologist in the days prior to your procedure. Instead, your health history will be reviewed thoroughly by an anesthesiologist and any necessary tests ordered after your telephone interview.
Before your surgery, you will meet an important physician specialist – your anesthesiologist. A vital member of the surgical team, your anesthesiologist has the critical responsibility for your welfare when you undergo surgery. The anesthesiologist is your safeguard in the operating room.
What does an anesthesiologist do?
At South County Hospital, your anesthesiologist will personally provide every aspect of your anesthesia care. Along with administering anesthetic medications for your comfort, your anesthesiologist manages your vital functions to ensure your safety and speedy recovery. He or she will optimize critical body functions such as breathing, heartbeat, blood pressure, and body temperature. The anesthesiologist balances fluid and blood replacement as needed. Your anesthesiologist will diagnose and provide treatment for new medical problems that may arise and changes in your existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, breathing problems, heart conditions and high blood pressure.
What are the types of anesthesia?
Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC) – involves intravenous medication to keep you relaxed while your surgeon numbs an area with local anesthetic. During this type of anesthesia, most often patients maintain breathing on their own.
General Anesthesia (GA) – involves controlled loss of consciousness using combinations of inhaled anesthesia gases and intravenous medications. During this type of anesthesia, your breathing will most likely be assisted or completely taken under control by your anesthesiologist using a combination of techniques which may include use of a face mask, laryngeal mask airway, breathing tube, and sometimes the ventilator (breathing machine).
Spinal/Epidural Anesthesia – involves numbing and pain medications placed near the nerves in the spinal column. Your legs and lower torso will experience a temporary numbness and decrease in muscular movement. Prior to the spinal/epidural procedure, most patients receive a light to moderate sedative. In the operating room, your anesthesiologist will deepen your sedation level based on your existing medical conditions and preferences. During this type of anesthesia, most often patients maintain breathing on their own. When indicated, a pain medication lasting almost 24 hours may be added to the injection. When a spinal/epidural is utilized for pain relief after surgery or during childbirth, you will maintain partial sensation and muscular movement.
Nerve Block – involves numbing medicine placed near clusters of nerves. Nerve blocks provide many hours of decreased pain long after the surgery has been completed. Your anesthesiologist will pair your never block with either general anesthesia, spinal/epidural anesthesia, and/or intravenous sedation based on your surgical procedure, existing medical conditions, and your preferences.
How safe is anesthesia?
Great advances have been made in the field of anesthesiology over the last several decades. Today’s anesthetics and techniques are safer and have fewer side effects than those used in the past. Highly trained anesthesiologists and sophisticated vital function monitors with alarm systems give modern anesthesia a great safety profile. As with many of our daily activities, there is always some risk involved, but undergoing surgery and anesthesia is statistically safer than many routine activities such as driving a car.
After surgery, what can I expect?
Immediately after surgery, your anesthesiologist will bring you to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU). Under the supervision of the anesthesiologist, specialized nurses will continue to monitor your vital signs and keep you safe and comfortable by administering treatment ordered by your anesthesiologist for pain, nausea or other problems if they arise.
Will I receive a separate bill from the anesthesiologist?
You will receive a bill for your anesthesiologist’s professional services separate from the hospital’s and surgeon’s bill. As a service to you, your anesthesiologist will submit your claim to your designated insurer. As with any physician, your anesthesiologist expects you to pay any co-pays and deductibles that may be applied by your insurer. If you do not have health insurance, you will probably be contacted by your anesthesiologist to discuss your payment options. If you have financial concerns, please don’t hesitate to tell your anesthesiologist.