Blow­ing away anaes­the­sia myths

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET

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.’’

Photo: DANIELLE STREET

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.

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