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article imageWill anesthesiologists be a thing of the past?

By Tim Sandle     May 13, 2015 in Science
A new machine, piloted in the U.S., could one day replace the need for anesthesiologists. The machine has been piloted at ProMedica Toledo Hospital in Toledo.
The machine is called the Sedasys anesthesiology machine. The device was built by healthcare company Johnson & Johnson (J&J). The machine is a computer-assisted device that administers the prescription drug propofol into the blood stream via intravenous infusion. As a safeguard, the device detects signs of oversedation and it can automatically modify or stop the infusion in risk situations.
The machine gained U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 2013; however, the machine has only just been put into use. Currently four hospitals in the U.S. have the device.
The first patient to go under with the new technology was Nancy Youssef-Ringle, a cancer patient at the ProMedica Toledo Hospital. The device anesthetized Nancy prior to an investigative colonoscopy, according to The Washington Post.
The current scope of the machine is limited to a selective range of procedures. This could be about to change, for researchers based at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, are developing a device that can fully automate anesthesia for brain and heart surgeries in adults and children.
One of the central reasons why hospitals are considering the machine is to save costs. In the U.S. the cost of anesthesiology is around $2,000. With the use of the Sedasys, the cost falls within the $150 to $200 range. With this J&J CEO Alex Gorsky stated to The Wall Street Journal: “Sedasys is a great way to improve care and reduce costs."
Members of the American College of Anesthesiologists initially opposed the machine. Seeing that its use was becoming inevitable, the professional body have lobbied hard for restrictive guidelines instead, as Popular Science has reported.
The Sedasys anesthesiology machine is just one of a range of devices being developed to automated hospitals and to remove the ‘human factor.’ Reasons for considering such technology include a desire to eliminate human error or fatigue; to save costs in the long term; or to speed up a particular process. With the case of anesthesiology, even highly skilled professions are not immune to the advance of new technologies.
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