Anesthesia passport ensures optimal care

A patient "passport," outlining individual anesthetic experiences and side effects, can help patients to better understand the procedures they have undergone in the operating room and potentially avoid future, unnecessary complications.

Although more than 15 million Americans undergo surgery and anesthesia each year, many find the entire process to be complicated and confusing. And while anesthesia and surgery are relatively safe and common procedures, occasionally there are complications or side effects that are important pieces of information for any future surgical interventions.

Tricia A. Meyer, PharmD., M.S., assistant professor of anesthesiology, Texas A&M College of Medicine, Texas A&M University, and director, department of pharmacy, Scott and White Healthcare System, Temple, Texas, developed a test patient pamphlet titled “Your Anesthesia Passport” and distributed it to 200 patients, ages 12 to 83, in the ambulatory surgical center at Scott and White Memorial Hospital in Temple.

The passports, or work sheets, provided background information on the individual patient's anesthesia, and an explanation of the document. It also included information on the type of surgery and anesthetic regimen (medications, date of surgery and surgeon), and any side effects experienced (headache, nausea, vomiting, etc.) or other anesthetic concerns (intubations difficulties, latex allergy). The sheet also included ambulatory surgical center staff contact information.

The perioperative nurse and anesthesia care provider completed the information and gave the passport to the patient or family member prior to discharge.

When asked to complete an evaluation on the perceived usefulness of the passport, 99 percent of patients indicated that it “helped them understand more about their anesthesia,” Meyer said. “They indicated that they would keep the passport and present it to any future anesthesia or surgery care providers,” she noted.

“The patient can play a key role in providing vital information for any future surgical or anesthetic interventions to a surgery center,” Meyer said. “Patients are becoming more knowledgeable about their medical conditions and are also becoming more actively involved in their health care. A patient's past surgical and anesthetic experiences are important parts of their medical history. The ‘passport' can be a useful aid for this information.”

Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists is an educational, research and scientific association with 41,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology and improve the care of the patient. Visit our Web site at http://www.asahq.org.

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