As physicians with significantly longer and more extensive training than other classifications of anesthesia practitioners, physician anesthesiologists are the most qualified to make anesthesia related perioperative medical decisions. Physician anesthesiologists are primarily responsible for the safety and well-being of patients before, during and after surgery. This may include placing them in the state of controlled unconsciousness called “general anesthesia”, the provision of “regional anesthetics” where only a portion of the body is made numb, or administering sedation when indicated for the relief of pain or anxiety. These anesthetics provide continuous pain relief and sustain patients’ critical life functions as they are affected throughout surgical, obstetrical or other medical procedures. A physician anesthesiologist is the director of the Anesthesia Care Team.
The role of the physician anesthesiologist extends beyond the operating room. He or she is responsible for the preoperative assessment of the patient, an evaluation process that carefully considers both the patient’s current state of health and the planned surgical procedure that allows physician anesthesiologists to make judgments about the safest anesthesia plan for each individual patient. The physician anesthesiologist is also responsible for the well being of the patient postoperatively while the patient emerges from the effects of anesthesia. They are often involved in the management of acute postoperative pain, as well as chronic and cancer pain; in cardiac and respiratory resuscitation; in blood transfusion therapies; and in respiratory therapy.
Directed by a physician anesthesiologist, the Anesthesia Care Team consists of physician anesthesiologists supervising qualified nonphysician anesthesia providers and/or resident physicians in training in the provision of anesthesia care.