Bringing Anesthesiology and Law Together, Conceptually and Factually

Scope of Anesthesiology

  1. Anesthesiologists are perioperative physicians with responsibilities during the preoperative, intraoperative and postoperative periods to keep the patient comfortable and safe.
  2. There are three common types of anesthesia that anesthesia providers participate in: General Anesthesia, Regional Anesthesia and Monitored Anesthesia Care. In all of the types of anesthesia, the anesthesia provider continually monitors and medically manages the patient to protect the patient’s life functions and vital organs by providing oxygen, IV fluids, medications and/or blood products. The data obtained from the monitors is recorded into a graphical anesthesia record. Local Anesthesia is a fourth type of anesthesia that can be administered to a patient during a relatively noninvasive procedure that usually does not require the participation of an anesthesia provider.
  3. General Anesthesia involves rendering the patient unconscious and establishing an unobstructed, secure airway. Drugs known as muscle relaxants and mechanical ventilation are often part of the anesthetic plan.
  4. Two significant stages of General Anesthesia are at the beginning, known as induction, when the patient is rendered unconscious, and at the conclusion of surgery, known as emergence, when the patient is awakened.
  5. Regional Anesthesia involves rendering the patient insensible to pain by injecting local anesthetic medication by a spinal, epidural or peripheral nerve block.
  6. Monitored Anesthesia Care, commonly referred to as MAC, involves providing sedatives and/or analgesics along with other medications as necessary for patient safety, while monitoring and supporting vital patient functions including spontaneous breathing, without inducing unconsciousness.
  7. Considerations that influence the choice of anesthetic technique include preference of the patient and/or surgeon, coexisting patient disease, site and duration of the planned surgery, positioning of the patient during surgery and whether the surgery is elective or emergent.