Helping patients understand anaesthesia

BE PREPARED: Gisborne hospital anaesthetist Richard Morgan is ready to offer advice at the National Anaesthesia Day display at Gisborne Hospital. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

More than 3000 New Zealanders will have an operation under general anaesthesia in New Zealand over this year — and some more than once.

Understanding what patients can do to prepare for surgery was the focus of National Anaesthesia Day on Wednesday at Gisborne Hospital and other public hospitals, by members of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA).

“We’re taking the opportunity to remind New Zealanders that some medications people take for certain health conditions may react with their anaesthetic and also affect their recovery,’’ said ANZCA spokesman Dr Nigel Robertson.

“We’re encouraging people to speak with their anaesthetists ahead of their operation to ensure they’re well prepared and everything runs as smoothly as possible.”

The display at Gisborne Hospital featured posters and patient information about anaesthesia.

October 16 marks the anniversary of the day in 1846 when ether anaesthetic was first demonstrated publicly in Boston.

ANZCA promotes National Anaesthesia Day annually to raise public awareness of anaesthesia generally and the range of work anaesthetists do, focusing on a different aspect of anaesthesia each year.

Key messages for patients

• Try to improve your physical fitness and stop smoking. Even stopping for 24 hours before surgery makes a real difference.

• Eat a healthy diet and make sure you are rested.

• If you are diabetic, make sure your sugar levels are tested and are around your normal level

• Have a list of your prescription medicines as well as your allergies to share with your anaesthetist. You may be asked not to take some medicines before surgery.

• Take only your prescribed medicines. Complimentary medicines and herbal treatments may react with anaesthetics so please check with your anaesthetist if you need to stop taking them.

• Don’t overexercise in the 24 hours before surgery or drink excess alcohol, as you could become dehydrated.

• If you want to know more about your anaesthesia or surgery – don’t “Dr Google” it. Contact your anaesthetist directly or through the hospital or your surgeon’s office. He or she will be happy to advise you.

Who is your anaesthetist?

• All anaesthetists are highly trained specialist doctors.

• After finishing medical school and working for at least two years as a junior doctor, they then complete at least five years of training to become a specialist anaesthetist.

Did you know?

• Anaesthesia is one of the greatest discoveries of modern medicine.

• Many of today’s operations, especially for the very young, very old, or very ill would not be possible without it.

• Australia and New Zealand are two of the safest places in the world to have a procedure under general anaesthetic.

More than 3000 New Zealanders will have an operation under general anaesthesia in New Zealand over this year — and some more than once.

Understanding what patients can do to prepare for surgery was the focus of National Anaesthesia Day on Wednesday at Gisborne Hospital and other public hospitals, by members of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA).

“We’re taking the opportunity to remind New Zealanders that some medications people take for certain health conditions may react with their anaesthetic and also affect their recovery,’’ said ANZCA spokesman Dr Nigel Robertson.

“We’re encouraging people to speak with their anaesthetists ahead of their operation to ensure they’re well prepared and everything runs as smoothly as possible.”

The display at Gisborne Hospital featured posters and patient information about anaesthesia.

October 16 marks the anniversary of the day in 1846 when ether anaesthetic was first demonstrated publicly in Boston.

ANZCA promotes National Anaesthesia Day annually to raise public awareness of anaesthesia generally and the range of work anaesthetists do, focusing on a different aspect of anaesthesia each year.

Key messages for patients

• Try to improve your physical fitness and stop smoking. Even stopping for 24 hours before surgery makes a real difference.

• Eat a healthy diet and make sure you are rested.

• If you are diabetic, make sure your sugar levels are tested and are around your normal level

• Have a list of your prescription medicines as well as your allergies to share with your anaesthetist. You may be asked not to take some medicines before surgery.

• Take only your prescribed medicines. Complimentary medicines and herbal treatments may react with anaesthetics so please check with your anaesthetist if you need to stop taking them.

• Don’t overexercise in the 24 hours before surgery or drink excess alcohol, as you could become dehydrated.

• If you want to know more about your anaesthesia or surgery – don’t “Dr Google” it. Contact your anaesthetist directly or through the hospital or your surgeon’s office. He or she will be happy to advise you.

Who is your anaesthetist?

• All anaesthetists are highly trained specialist doctors.

• After finishing medical school and working for at least two years as a junior doctor, they then complete at least five years of training to become a specialist anaesthetist.

Did you know?

• Anaesthesia is one of the greatest discoveries of modern medicine.

• Many of today’s operations, especially for the very young, very old, or very ill would not be possible without it.

• Australia and New Zealand are two of the safest places in the world to have a procedure under general anaesthetic.

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