Anesthesia assistants expand their contribution to patient care

Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 4:16pm

The Code Blue Team at the VG site of the QEII grew in November with the addition of anesthesia assistants. For the past several years since the reallocation of services, there has been limited coverage for a timely response to airway emergencies on site after 5 p.m. As of Nov 26 however, that changed.

“These individuals will contribute significantly to enhancing our patient safety efforts on a 24/7 basis,” explains William Hill, manager of the Department of Anesthesia. “Anesthesia assistants are very well trained and prepared to support resuscitation activities , particularly airway management. This around-the-clock coverage will also give further support to operating rooms and the post anaesthetic care unit (PACU) activities after hours.”  There are currently 10 full- time anesthesia assistants.

Anesthesia assistants have been part of Capital Health for more than 10 years. They are specially trained health professionals who provide anesthesia care including the insertion of intravenous lines, arterial lines, and administration of intravenous drugs. They also provide airway management and assessment under the supervision of an anesthesiologist. In addition, they relieve anesthesiologists by observing stable patients in the operating room to allow for breaks, combating fatigue and thus increase patient safety, especially during long surgeries.  

“This extra set of hands allows the operating rooms to function continuously throughout the day and positively influences patient flow,” says Hill. “We now have the right people on standby at the bedside to be available in a timely manner. This is already having a very positive impact.”

Other than the Code Blue team, anesthesia assistants provide services in the following  areas of Capital Health :

  • General Operating Rooms on VG 10 and 11 A, and the Halifax Infirmary
  • Ophthalmology Operating Rooms on 2B at the VG
  • Regional Anesthesia Block Room at the Halifax Infirmary
  • Support off-site general anesthesia in diagnostic areas, such as endoscopic retrograde colonangiogram, cardiac intervention and TAVI (transarterial valve implantation) labs

Hill says the anesthesia assistants have embraced this new role and are excited to work with such a committed group as our Code Blue Team.