This past December, members of the Somnia Anesthesia staff attended the New York State Gastroenterologists’ 37th Annual Course in New York City at the Marriot Marquis in Times Square. Like many tradeshows and conferences, there were a plethora of booths, exhibitions, presentations and demonstrations, especially in the technological arena. From new operating tools and surgical methods, one of the most engaging topics was that of Johnson and Johnson’s newest technology: Sedasys.
Sedasys, a machine that automates sedation of patients undergoing procedures that require light to moderate anesthesia, may be on markets for purchase by early this year. According to the Wall Street Journal, the FDA has approved it for use on healthy, low-risk patients during colon-cancer screenings using propofol. Many proponents of the product argue that this machine will save money for the hospitals while still delivering quality care because of the accuracy of the patient monitoring system. However, from what was overheard at the NYSGE Annual Course and what can be found online and in plenty of anesthesia publications, many doctors are completely opposed to such technology.
Many anesthesiologists argue that there is nothing that can adequately replace the anesthesiologist due to the risks involved in administering anesthesia. As the aforementioned WSJ article explained, anesthesiologists and certified nurses of anesthesia monitor the patient at all stages of surgery in-case something suddenly goes wrong and “split-second aid” is required.
In a recent podcast with Anesthesiology News, Somnia Anesthesia Founder and CEO,Dr. Marc Koch sounded off on the FDA approval of Sedasys, a delivery system that allows gastroenterologists and nurses to administer anesthesia without an anesthesia provider on-site.
When asked whether the introduction of systems like Sedasys would render the anesthesiologist profession moot, Dr. Koch replied, “No…it’s not the administration of a drug. It’s the care of patients undergoing surgical procedures…and it involves substantially more than just giving a medication. It involves the care of the patient…and I really don’t see political or other threat to anesthesiologists on the basis of that and that alone.”
With the debate still burning on, there seems to be no stopping the introduction of the robotic anesthesiologist, however. Johnson and Johnson is getting ready to release the product for use in hospitals and ASCs all across the country early this year, and it will be most interesting to watch how it fairs with patients and anesthesia professionals alike.