Did you know the phrase, “bite the bullet,” meant exactly that? Wounded soldiers were given a bullet to bite on as the surgeons performed painful operations ranging from suturing wounds to sawing off limbs, all while conscious and without anesthesia.

In the past we discussed the uses for computers in healthcare facilities or hospitals. While we provided some solid guidelines, we didn’t address the various departments, their specialties, and unique requirements.

From the painful beginning above we cover the anesthesia department ﹘ from what it is, function in the hospital, to the best computers to use in this critical specialty.

Beyond Knock Out Gas What is Anesthesiology? 

Anesthesiology is the medical specialty concerned with the practice of anesthesia, or insensitivity to pain. This is done through the use of various injected and inhaled medications.

Safe anesthesia requires in-depth knowledge to control patients’ vital functions while they’re under the effects of anesthetic drugs. These include advanced airway (lung) management, invasive and non-invasive hemodynamic (blood pressure, oxygen levels) monitors, and diagnostic techniques like ultrasonography and echocardiography.

Anesthesiologist Team Guardian Angels

Anesthesiologist

Anesthesiology is primarily practiced by the anesthesiologist. They are the medical specialists who make anesthesia-related medical decisions.

In recent decades, the anesthesiologist’s role has broadened to focus not just on administering anesthetics during surgeries, but also beforehand and afterwards. This has been termed “perioperative medicine”.

Medical students must complete a four-year bachelors’ degree, a four-year medical degree, and four years of residency to become an anesthesiologist. Some take an extra year of training called a fellowship to further specialize in the field. 

  • Heart (cardiac anesthesia)
  • Brain and spinal cord (neuroanesthesia)
  • Childbirth (obstetric anesthesia)
  • Children (pediatric anesthesia)
  • Pain management
  • Emergency surgery (critical care medicine)

Anesthesiologists often lead an Anesthesia Care Team. Members may include: 

Anesthesiologist Assistant

Anesthesiologist Assistants (AAs) are highly skilled health professionals who work under the direction of licensed anesthesiologists. An AA may not practice outside the field of anesthesia or apart from the supervision of an anesthesiologist.

Anesthesia Technician

An Anesthesia Technician (AT) is not a doctor or a nurse. ATs are responsible for managing the anesthesia equipment and for its proper maintenance.

Certified Anesthesia Technician / Technologist

The Certified Anesthesia Technician (Cer.A.T.) is not a doctor or a nurse. They are what is called “an allied health care professional.” Cer.A.T. perform duties under the supervision of the anesthesiologist. 

An Certified Anesthesia Technologist (Cer.A.T.T.) is a Cer.A.T. who has additional levels of training and experience.

Other staff commonly found among the team include nurse anesthetists and anesthesiology resident physicians. 

There are 6,493 anesthesiologists employed in the United States as of 2019. Worldwide, there are over 550,000 working in the profession.

Many Duties Outside the OR

Unsurprisingly, anesthesiologists are primarily found in the operating room as part of the surgical medical team. It’s estimated 310 million major surgeries were performed in 2020 with 40 to 50 million in the US alone. Approximately 40 million used anesthetic with anesthesiologists handling roughly 90 percent of those cases.

As mentioned earlier, the anesthesiologist’s role extends beyond the operating room. Many are responsible for the pre-operative assessment of the patient. They identify high-risk patients, making medical judgments about the best anesthesia plan for that individual, what medications they’re to take, the type of surgery, optimize their fitness, etc.   

The anesthesiologist is also responsible for the well-being of the patient as they emerge from the effects of the anesthesia (called postoperative) and any acute postoperative pain. 

Anesthesiologists can also be found in intensive care units helping to stabilize critically ill or injured patients. Many see patients with chronic and cancer pain as well.  

Cardiac and respiratory resuscitation; blood transfusion therapies; and in respiratory therapy are other tasks performed by anesthesiologists.

Anesthesiologist’s Arsenal

Anesthesiologists provide anesthesia care through various means. 

  • General anesthesia. These are the medications that put patients to “sleep” during surgery. 
  • Sedation. These medications help patient’s relax before and during the procedure. The effects can range from mild drowsiness to full sleep. 
  • Regional anesthesia. This type of anesthesia numbs just the area of the patient’s body where there will be surgery. Examples include one arm or leg.
  • Local anesthesia. This type numbs a smaller area of the body. The numbing gel swabbed on the gums by dentists is an example of a local anesthetic. 
  • Nerve block. These medications relieve pain from injuries and medical conditions. This is done to treat pain in a certain area such as the back.

Anesthesiologists keep an eye on their patient’s health and condition while they’re under the effects of anesthesia through various medical devices. Some of the more important ones are: 

  • The continuous-flow anesthetic machine, used to render patients unconscious, contains a monitor to display vital signs (“railroad tracks”).
  • An inflatable blood pressure cuff. This monitors the patient’s blood pressure. 
  • A pulse oximeter measures the level of oxygen in the patient’s blood.
  • An electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG) to monitor their heart activity. 
  • An endotracheal tube is a device that goes into the patient’s trachea to ensure that air reaches the lungs to help them breathe.

Medical Computers and Anesthesiology

Computers play a vital role to anesthesiologists from providing patient details via EMR to displaying vital signs. Standard, off-the-shelf brands have to be kept outside the operating theater. Many anesthesia devices were quite sensitive and delicate, and could potentially shut down around these computers. This is a burden since anesthesiologists may not react in the OR during emergencies in a timely manner.    

Many hospitals switched to medical computers to overcome these limitations. They work just fine in the OR thanks to the following features:

  • Medical Grade – This means the computer is 60601-1 compliant, having been built and tested to work safely around patients and their life-saving equipment like those found in the OR or ICU. 
  • Fanless / Antibacterial / IP65 – Sterile conditions are important in hospitals. Fanless medical computers keep cool without taking in and blowing out airborne pathogens. Those with antibacterial properties are protected from bacteria growing on their surfaces, while IP65 rated means they’re sealed from liquids. This last feature allows easy cleaning with hospital grade cleaning sprays. 
  • Legacy – Legacy medical equipment are devices no longer supported by their manufacturers. Anesthesiologists continue to use them for various reasons like costs. Medical PCs with legacy ports can connect with such devices. 
  • Reliable – Anesthesiologists must trust their medical devices and equipment to function flawlessly. The consequences of even a brief failure can literally be a matter of life-and-death. A medical computer’s low failure rate is important to this department. 

Closing Thoughts

Anesthesiology is the medical specialty that puts patients in a state of controlled unconsciousness, provides pain relief, and monitors these patients as they undergo medical procedures like surgery. The anesthesiologist has many other duties before and after surgeries, and in other hospital departments. If you’re looking into which medical computers are best for this vital specialty, contact a representative from Cybernet. 

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