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Anesthesia services and management are generally outsourced by hospitals. Anesthesiologists are an area of specialty within the medical profession and industry. Surgical centers also hire anesthesia service companies.
Anesthesiologists are fully qualified doctors. These physicians have an degree and a residency in anesthesiology. They are experts on the use of anesthesia drugs, both local and general. However, much of the direct contact work is done by anesthesia technicians who work under supervision to administer sedation and intravenous drugs. Anesthesia services also hire nurses to medically induce sleep. Nurse anesthetists can and do work without the supervision of the doctor. They may also be the only specialist that is available at smaller hospitals to administer anesthesia during surgery.
Anesthesia is the deadening of pain. Local anesthesia numbs only the area on which the surgeon intends to work, commonly through injection. There are even some creams that have an anesthetic effect. General anesthesia is a medically induced and reversible coma. Patients under general anesthesia need to be carefully monitored. Anesthesia is considered another risky aspect when undergoing surgery. Commonly, operations are kept as short as possible to maximize patient safety and minimize required dosages. Special equipment is used to ensure that patients get sufficient oxygen. It is also used to monitor heart rates.
Nitrous oxide is also used, especially by dentists. Nitrous oxide is commonly referred to as laughing gas. It works primarily by making the patient too happy to care about what the doctor might be doing. Nitrous oxide is sometimes abused as a recreational drug, and medical facilities often keep this drug securely stored. Conscious sedation is also sometimes used for simple surgeries.
Anesthesia services allow many patients to receive the surgical care they need, either as out-patients or under hospital care, in a safe and comfortable manner. There are three types of anesthesia—sometimes spelled anaesthesia—that allow anesthesiologists to induce sleep through the administration of a certain type of drug or gas, like nitrous oxide or desflurane. The most common anesthesia, general, is used for major surgery that will more often than not take place in the hospital. General anesthesia will bring the patient to a state of complete unconsciousness, or deep sleep, while the doctor operates. This way, the patient will not feel the pain, and the operation can be preformed without hindrances. For both local and regional anesthetics, the muscle area or area being worked on is numb and immobile, so that, again, the physician can perform the task that he or she needs to without causing discomfort to the patient. Some common instances of this are when a person is sedated for a dental procedure, or for when a woman is given an epidural while birthing a baby. Usually, when a person is under sedation, it is hard for him or her to breathe without assistance, so an anesthesiologist must also be very careful to monitor the heart and lungs of a patient. While the effects of anesthesia are usually reversible, there are some potential side effects. Therefore, before undergoing surgery, it is essential to talk to your doctors and be sure that you understand the drug that they will be administering to you, and the potential side effects. Be sure to let them know any family history with anesthesia problems as well! Your doctor will usually be able to recommend an anesthesiologist that you can trust, but be sure to research the physician on your own too!