Patients Well Served By Ontario's Anesthesiologists

    TORONTO, April 23 /CNW/ - "Anesthesia is safe because it is administered
by Anesthesiologists with exclusive training," said Dr. Stephen Brown, Chair
of the Ontario Medical Association Section on Anesthesiology.
    Dr. Brown was commenting on The Globe and Mail article published on
Saturday, April 21st, "Awake and in pain under the knife" (by Lisa Priest).
The article reported on the serious yet rare phenomenon known as "anesthesia
awareness". While very rare, (occurring once in every 14,500 general
anesthetics) it is nonetheless a serious situation and highlights that while
anesthesia is safe, it is not free from risk.
    "It is something I am on the lookout for every time I administer
anesthesia," says Dr. Charles Knapp, an Anesthesiologist at North York General
Hospital. "Before surgery I do a pre-operative assessment to determine the
amount of anesthetic required, and during surgery I watch for any change in
heart rate, blood pressure, or perspiration, which may be a sign that the
anesthetic is too 'light' for the patient."
    The risks of patient awareness during surgery and the possibility of
complications also raise a health policy issue: the government and the medical
community need to ensure that every patient receiving anesthesia is treated by
a qualified Anesthesiologist.
    Ontario's Anesthesiologists have supported a team approach to anesthesia
care and believe that the inclusion of other professionals (anesthesia
assistants and nurses) can be positive if properly implemented. However,
Anesthesiologists must lead and supervise these teams.
    Dr. Brown went on to say, "It is vital to understand that the
administration of anesthesia while safe, is not free from risks. Anesthesia
medication, equipment, procedures, and planning are customized for each
patient. Safety has improved over the past 20 years because of our hard work.
We are leaders in patient safety, research and advocacy, but the best
preventative strategy remains the presence of a qualified Anesthesiologist."
    Anesthesia in Ontario is administered by specialized Anesthesiologists
who typically receive 13 years of post-secondary education. This advanced
training enables them to assess each patient, administer specific treatment,
closely monitor the effects of those treatments and ensure that patients
recover fully from the anesthetic.

    Ontario's Anesthesiologists, also known as the Ontario Medical
Association Section on Anesthesiology, represents over 1,000 anesthesiologists
across Ontario. The section has a mandate to work with government, the medical
community and patients to ensure quality anesthesia care for Ontarians.

For further information:

For further information: Christine Young, Ontario's Anesthesiologists,
(416) 642-6336

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