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Anaesthetise patients for operations

The “bread and butter” of what an anaesthetist does is to anaesthetise patients who need operations.

Every person is different and their bodies will react differently to the drugs that we administer, and also to the surgery that is performed.  We can predict a lot of things by meeting and assessing our patients before the operation, and reviewing notes from previous anaesthetics if available.  Sometimes we need to communicate with our patient’s GP or other medical specialists that they may have seen, and sometimes we need to organise assessments or investigations from other medical specialists so that the procedure can be performed with optimal safety.

During the operation the anaesthetist is present the whole time, closely watching our patient and the monitors, and making minor adjustments to keep the body systems stable.

The anaesthetist is also responsible for keeping the patient safe while the patient is anaesthetised and cannot protect themself.  The anaesthetist will make sure their patient is positioned in as comfortable position as possible to avoid joint or nerve stress or pressure areas, and will co-ordinate the theatre team during any movements or transfers of our patient so that this is performed gently and safely.

Anaesthetists also tailor a pain-management plan, fluid management plan, and potentially a nausea management plan  for our patient in the immediate post-operative period.   If the initial plans do not work well, we are available to reassess the situation and modify these plans.  Sometimes the best way to reduce post-operative pain or nausea is to include a regional anaesthetic technique (spinal, epidural, or nerve block) as part of the anaesthetic.

About half of all pregnant women encounter an anaesthetist at some point.  This may be for assessment and planning before labour and delivery, placement of an epidural catheter for pain relief during labour, or for anaesthesia for Caesarean section or assisted delivery.