Role of the Physician Anesthesiologist
When preparing for surgery, many patients think of the physician anesthesiologist as just the person behind the mask who puts them to sleep and wakes them when it’s over. They may not realize the comprehensive medical care the physician anesthesiologist provides between those two points and beyond.
Physician anesthesiologists play a vital role in a patient’s medical care, making decisions to protect and regulate critical life functions. They serve as the patient’s advocate and typically are the first to diagnose and treat medical problems or complications that may arise before, during and after surgery. They have a wide range of knowledge about medications and how the human body works and responds to the stress of surgery at all stages of a procedure. Think of physician anesthesiologists as your seat belt during surgery: When there is an emergency or complication, they can save your life.
- Before surgery: Physician anesthesiologists evaluate the patient to develop an anesthesia plan, taking into consideration the patient’s medical history and physical condition.
- During surgery: Physician anesthesiologists use advanced technology to monitor the body’s functions and determine how best to regulate and treat the body’s vital organ systems while administering a personalized, delicate balance of anesthetic medications. In some hospitals, nurse anesthetists may assist the physician anesthesiologists with the monitoring. However, physician anesthesiologists are responsible for interpreting the monitoring and making medical judgments about the patient’s responses and necessary treatment.
- After surgery: Physician anesthesiologists reverse the effects of the anesthetic medications and return the patient to consciousness. They keep the patient in a comfortable state during recovery and are involved in providing critical care medicine in the intensive care unit.