Despite the great advances of modern medicine, various challenges still exist that make operations risky for patients. From surgical-site infections to long anesthesia time, problems remain that can cut down on the quality of patient care and cause losses to hospitals. Finances, human capital and hospital efficiency are all at stake.
The hope is for solutions that offer quick and significant, yet safe, advancements that improve healthcare quality. What are the challenges to reducing anesthesia time and what possible solutions are there for anesthetists and surgeons?
Reducing Anesthesia: Where to Start?
Ever since general anesthesia was introduced, the question of how much or how little of it is needed has remained an important question.
Too much anesthesia and a patient may experience dizziness, nausea and in the worst cases, a heart attack or worse. Too little and doctors run the risk of a patient becoming aware and returning to consciousness during the operation, which can result in psychological trauma, disorientation and cognitive dysfunction.
In other words, it’s a fine balance which also depends on a patient’s health prior to surgery as well as the complexity of the intervention. Furthermore, anesthesia itself is still a tool which has to be fine-tuned and understood in greater detail so as to be applied more precisely. Meanwhile, what can be done to make things more efficient and generally more beneficial for everyone involved?
Studying the Time-Effects of Anesthesia
As one way to address all dangers and losses related to inaccurately timed anesthesia, some hospitals have begun to analyze anesthesia start times and set benchmarks to estimate times for anesthesia to take effect.
Knowing how long average intraoperative anesthesia times last is expected to create greater clarity and help hospital management and the various teams schedule better and use everyone’s time more efficiently. This part of the process addresses the skills of anesthetists to understand and plan induction time better, but will take a while to be implemented.
Furthermore, anesthesia time is only a part of overall operating room downtime and such benchmarks, useful as they may be, are limited in their scope and only part of the equation.
Total OR Time and Interdisciplinary Collaboration
As many studies show, total operating theatre time is lengthened by delays in the flow through the theater. Delays are caused by the transfer of patients to the operating room or by the inaccurate estimation on the part of staff of how long an operation or procedure would take. But they are also caused by the inefficient cooperation between teams, from the time of induction to the time of incision – all these elements show potential and room for improvement.
Unfortunately, such delays and complications can also lead to anger, frustration and a general sense of misunderstanding between nurses, anesthetists and surgeons. This in itself also constitutes a factor of delay, as it creates a hospital environment and culture, which are not supportive.
And what’s more, it also results in low-quality patient care, frustration and discomfort (or even harm) for patients when it turns out that a surgeon or anesthetist is not present.
But this, too, has been addressed by studies and hospitals and tangible improvements were made. The key? Greater interdisciplinary collaboration, more communication, openness and foremost a willingness to eliminate factors of stress and delays for everyone involved.
Shortening Anesthesia Time by Shortening Surgery Time
If anesthesia time could be shortened by greater efficiency in the flow through the OR or through setting benchmarks for anesthetists, it makes sense to think that it could also be shortened by reducing the total duration of a surgery.
This could occur in a number of ways but one of surgeons’ biggest allies in this battle is modern technology. For example, healthcare technologies of the future, such as nanobots or augmented reality operating theaters, may end up reducing or even entirely eliminating anesthesia.
But before we get to the future, there are ways in which surgeons can shorten anesthesia time through technology already today. This is achieved by using medical applications such as ADORA HealthSuite and ADORA Assistant that help surgeons prior to and during surgery.
By using such advanced medical technology, surgeons can plan and execute surgeries with greater efficiency. They have access to information during the surgery and can navigate and use the application through gestures and voice commands. The benefit of this is that it reduces risks of surgical-site infections, associated with leaving the operating theater, but what’s more – it greatly reduces the total length of an operation.
Hence, if surgeons can reduce the overall time of a procedure that translates into shorter anesthesia time for patients. Shorter anesthesia minimizes risks for patients and directly increases their well-being and the overall quality of patient care.
What Else Can Be Done?
Does your hospital or team have benchmarks or procedures for the reduction of anesthesia or overall OR time? And where do you think lies the greatest challenge in addressing the delays, harms and costs that come through long anesthesia and surgical times? Leave us a comment!