A Patient’s Guide to Anesthesia

Understanding your anesthetic care can seem daunting at first. This guide can help you with a basic understanding. Your clinicians can give you a more in-depth understanding of your personal anesthetic care. Talk with your anesthesiologist. Ask questions. Discuss any concerns you might have about your anesthetic care.

Your Anesthesia Care Team

 

Your anesthesia care team could include both an anesthesiologist and a certified registered nurse anesthestist
Your anesthesia care team could include both an anesthesiologist and a certified registered nurse anesthestist

Anesthesiologists

Anesthesiologists are highly skilled physicians who complete a four-year college program, four years of medical school and four additional years of internship and anesthesiology residency. Your anesthesiologist is personally responsible for your comfort and well-being before, during and after your surgical procedure. In the operating room, the anesthesiologist will direct your anesthesia and manage vital functions, including heart rate, blood pressure, heart rhythm, body temperature and breathing. The anesthesiologist is also responsible for fluid and blood replacement, when necessary. He or she will regulate the anesthetic so that you will be safe and comfortable when you wake up.

Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs)

CRNAs are licensed professional nurses (RNs). Nurses begin their two to three year CRNA education with a minimum of a BSN or another appropriate Bachelor’s degree and complete a Master’s degree to become an Advanced Practice Nurse who specializes in anesthesia care. CRNAs are highly skilled in critical care nursing, become nationally certified by exam after graduation and collaborate with anesthesiologists to provide excellence in patient care and anesthesia delivery.

What to Expect Before, During and After Surgery

A doctor explaining the process in-depth to a patient
It is important to follow all instructions provided by your anesthesia care team

Before: Perioperative Interview

Anesthesiologists are highly skilled physicians who complete a four-year college program, four years of medical school and four additional years of internship and anesthesiology residency. Your anesthesiologist is personally responsible for your comfort and well-being before, during and after your surgical procedure. In the operating room, the anesthesiologist will direct your anesthesia and manage vital functions, including heart rate, blood pressure, heart rhythm, body temperature and breathing. The anesthesiologist is also responsible for fluid and blood replacement, when necessary. He or she will regulate the anesthetic so that you will be safe and comfortable when you wake up.

It is extremely important that you follow all directions regarding which medications you should or should not take before your surgical procedure, as well as fasting instructions.

The day of surgery

Be sure to arrive at the hospital or surgical center promptly at the time you are told. Your anesthesiologist, in consultation with your surgeon and you, will determine the safest type of anesthesia for you.

You will be receiving one of the following types of anesthesia:

  • General anesthesia

    You are unconscious and have no awareness of the surgical procedure or other sensations.

  • Regional anesthesia

    Your anesthesiologist injects medication near a cluster of nerves to numb only the area of your body that requires surgery.

  • Local/monitored anesthesia care

    Your anesthesiologist injects medication near a cluster of nerves to numb only the area of your body that requires surgery.

Your anesthesia care team will continue to monitor your condition in the recovery room
Your anesthesia care team will continue to monitor your condition in the recovery room

After surgery

Your anesthesiologist is responsible for your care in the recovery room, often called the post anesthesia care unit (PACU). Here, the anesthesiologist directs specially trained nurses who monitor your condition and vital signs as the effects of the anesthesia wear off. You will be given medications, if needed, for pain or side effects of anesthesia which could include nausea and vomiting.

 

Other Questions You May Have

Question Answer

May I choose my anesthesia provider?

You usually have a choice in selecting your anesthesia provider. Your surgeon may refer you to a specific anesthesia provider or you may select one based on a personal recommendation or previous experience. However, you must communicate your choice in advance so that arrangements may be made to honor your request.

Will I receive a separate bill from the anesthesiologist?

Your anesthesiologist is a specialist just like your surgeon or internist. You will be billed for your anesthesiologist’s professional service, as you would from your other physicians. Your hospital will charge separately for medications and equipment used during your surgery.

I have a question about my bill.

For any billing inquiries, please use our billing inquiries contact form or call us at 855.606.6176.