Knowing you are going to have surgery can be a tough pill to swallow. No matter what kind of surgery you are having, there are always risks. But at least it's a little comforting to know, even though you aren't conscious, someone is always there watching your every move.. so to speak... on a monitor.
Dan Vigness, and the staff he supervises at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, may be one of the best kept secrets in health care. Dan is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist and in a majority of cases you get your anesthesia from a CRNA. According to the AANA, Nurse anesthesia was established in the late 1800s as the first clinical nursing specialty in response to the growing need surgeons had for anesthetists. Nurse anesthetists, pioneers in anesthesia, have been administering anesthesia for more than 100 years and have played significant roles in developing the practice.
Dan says, " An Anesthesiologist is a Medical Doctor that performs anesthesia and a Nurse Anesthetist is a nurse who has extra training in anesthesia. We all work together to make sure the patient has the best experience they can."
When a patient goes under anesthesia that's when the anesthetist takes over all their bodily functions including breathing. And maybe that's one of the reasons why people get so nervous and anxious about anesthesia.
Dan says, " Sure, it's the fear of the unknown and they have to relinquish that control to someone they don't know, me. I'm going to do the breathing for them, take their blood pressure. Every function they normally do becomes what I do and that's frightening for people."
Dan tries to calm those fears by reminding us that about 30 million people go under anesthesia every year and for most people it's a pleasant experience. According to the Institute of Medicine anesthesia is 50 times safer now than it was 20 years ago.
Dan say, "We work behind the scenes so people only see us for a few minutes when they are awake when we are interviewing them but we never leave them. Once we are with them we take care of them. We never leave them alone."
No matter what body part the surgeon is working on to fix, know that your Nurse Anesthetist has your back and will never leave your side.Dan Vigness says you should also take an active role in making sure you don't have a negative reaction to anesthesia. Make sure to tell your CRNA what medications you are taking, any issues you may have and what herbal supplements you are on.