Blowing away anaesthesia myths
Auckland anaesthetists are out to bust some misconceptions about their profession.
A recent survey conducted by the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) shows that about 50 per cent of people do not realise their anaesthetists are highly skilled medical specialists.
But Dr Marty Minehan, a clinical director at Auckland City Hospital, says anaesthetists undergo rigorous training that takes more than 10 years.
‘‘Most people are quite scared of being anaesthetised. A number of people thought it was a dangerous medical experience, when statistically that’s not true,’’ he says.
‘‘If someone is young and healthy then they are at more risk getting to the hospital than they are under anaesthesia.’’
Anaesthesia is commonly thought of as sleep when actually it is a form of controlled unconsciousness.
The first public demonstration of using ether for an operation took place in October, 1846, in Boston – a moment that is widely regarded as the starting point of modern anaesthesia practice.
Over the decades the practice has developed to use a mix of intravenous and inhalation methods.
In the past year the Auckland District Health Board has anaesthetised 46,808 cases.
To help dispel some myths about the process Dr Minehan and a small team set up camp in the hospital foyer to demonstrate on a highfidelity simulation dummy called Denise.
The dummy is a helpful training and demonstration tool that can breathe, blink and speak.
‘‘Simulation is vital to training as an anaesthetist, it’s like being a pilot,’’ Dr Minehan says.
The demonstrations drew medical staff, trainee doctors and patients awaiting surgery.
One common fear people have is waking during surgery, but according to Dr Minehan ‘‘becoming aware’’ is exceedingly rare.
Dr Lindy Roberts from the ANZCA says anaesthetists stay with patients during the whole operation, however many people are not aware of their role.
‘‘They keep you safe during the operation by monitoring your heart, brain, lungs, airways and other vital functions,’’ she says.
‘‘They make sure you don’t feel pain during the operation, keep you still so that the surgeons can do their work, and help manage your pain afterwards.’’
Raising consciousness: From left: Jennifer Spencer, David Heather and Marty Minehan demonstrate the anaesthesia process on Denise, the high-fidelity simulator doll.
Go to aucklandcityharbournews. co.nz and click Latest Edition to watch the anaesthesia demonstration.