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How to overcome the fear of anesthesia

It is important that patients and their families understand the importance of safe anesthesia

How to overcome the fear of anesthesia
Dr Seema R. Pandya, specialist of anaesthesia at NMC Specialty Hospital, Abu Dhabi

Advancements in anesthesia have made many complex surgeries possible today. Operations on an unborn foetus to safe successful surgeries on the elderly have become possible because of innovations in the skillsets of anesthetists, newer anesthetic agents and safer equipment. Not all patients undergoing major surgeries are made to sleep fully (general anesthesia). Methods like spinal, epidural, local and nerve block have induced the numbing effect in a more localised manner and made recovery faster.

Despite the vital role, the general public treats anesthesia with fear or indifference. Most patients make detailed enquiry about the surgery, the associated risks, benefits and complications and also about the credentials/competency of surgeons. But these queries are not made about anesthesia and its methods.

This contradiction of fear and indifference is alarming and should be resolved through continuous contributions from all sides; including hospital management, anesthesiologists, surgeons, case managers and patients themselves.

Modern anesthetic practices have become one of the safest areas of medicine today. It uses multiple tools, procedures and protocols with the safety of patient at all times as the primary aim.

I would urge patients to talk freely to their anesthetist and inform about their medical history along with details of the medications they are currently taking. Patients should also insist on knowing the “do’s and don’ts” to be followed prior and on the day of anesthesia. One important requirement for most forms of anesthesia is starvation for at least eight hours.

Another important area of anesthesia is pain management. Today, the field is developed so much that Patient Controlled Anesthesia (PCA) is readily available. In this, pain medication is directly delivered to patient’s intravenous (IV) line by pump, with the press of a button.

Anesthesia monitoring has become very progressive over the years and the UAE has some of the most cutting edge innovations readily available for patient care. It is important that patients and their families understand the importance of safe anesthesia and become forthcoming in their approach to it.

The writer is Specialist of Anaesthesia at NMC Specialty Hospital, Abu Dhabi