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15 Jul

Administering healthcare: Doctor vs. Computer

Sedasys Machine - Computer-assisted personalized sedation

Nerves kick in as you’re getting ready for a routine medical procedure.  You’ve just been prepped and wheeled into the operating room.  Rather than hearing the comforting voice of a highly trained anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist - you’re being put to sleep by a machine.  What?!?!

Sound like a futuristic fantasy - right?  Well, it’s not. Sedasys, a new anesthesiology machine developed by Johnson & Johnson, won FDA approval in 2013 and is in use at four hospital in the U.S. for colonoscopies and endoscopies in healthy patients.  Sedasy sends a measured dose of a sedation drug into the patient while monitoring breathing and blood oxygen levels.  Some doctors performing these outpatient procedures are pleased with Sedasy since it administers the drug propofol, a fast-acting drug, that allows patients to wake up quickly after procedures and patients can leave the facility sooner.

This is just one example of how technology is making an impact in healthcare.  More advanced devices are being tested at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver that can fully automate anesthesia for complicated heart and brain surgeries.  

As much as I grateful for the many medical advancements in technology, I’m not sure how comfortable I am with a machine versus a trained medical professional who knows what to do in emergency situations and has many years of experience in the operating room.  Doctors of anesthesiology receive four additional years of schooling and training after completing medical school.   Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are advanced practice nurses who provide anesthetics to patients for every type of surgery and procedure.  

How would you feel about yourself or a loved one being administered anesthesia by a machine?  Are advances in healthcare technology taking away the human factor of healthcare?



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