The Sedasys machine has become widely recognized as a medical technology that could effectively replace anesthesiologists. Third party reports have suggested that the machines perform the tasks of a modern-day anesthesiologist. However, top medical professionals are refuting these claims, and are proving that no machine can do the extensive, careful work of a highly-trained anesthesiologist.
What is the Sedasys machine in the first place? According to Modern Healthcare, “Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, developed a computer-assisted sedation system called Sedasys. Despite the concerns of anesthesiologists, the system was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2013 to deliver propofol for minimal-to-moderate sedation for colonoscopies and upper endoscopies without an anesthesiologist in the room,” (June, 2015). Sedasys automatically reduces or stops infusion of propofol depending on the patient’s blood oxygen level, heart rate, and respiratory rate. Although this type of technology has truly been a breakthrough in moderate sedation, full-scale sedation can only be administered and performed by a certified anesthesiologist.
Many medical professionals have been skeptical of this new technology and have questioned its viability and reliability. Dr. John Abenstein, president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, said “it is unlikely that Sedasys and other machines will ever replace anesthesiologists, who still will be needed for more complex procedures,” and he believes that the machine acts as merely a “safety device.” The recent developments in robotics, machinery, and artificial intelligence have definitely affected the way we look at the future of healthcare. However, it is clear that machines like Sedasys exist to assist anesthesiologists in their intricate work. Human beings trust other human beings to care for them, not machines alone. Healthcare professionals see the truth in mutual human trust and connection, and do not see machines replacing anesthesiologists any time soon.
There are many scenarios in which Sedasys would not be an appropriate method of patient care. According to Dr. Richard Novak, a Stanford physician and Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at Stanford, “Sedasys is not appropriate if the patient is ASA 3 or 4 or has severe medical problems. Sedasys is not appropriate if the patient has risk factors such as morbid obesity, a difficult airway, or sleep apnea.” As a seasoned clinician, Dr. Novak understands the intricacies of anesthesia and believes it will be a very long time before a robot or machine can master deep sedation without a high risk of disaster.
Sedasys has proven to be a low-cost technology that can effectively deliver propofol for minimal sedation purposes. This machine has helped thousands of patients through procedures such as colonoscopies, but healthcare professionals and administrators must not forget the importance of the anesthesiologist in general pain management. Somnia Anesthesia believes strongly in the necessity of anesthesiologists and supports their critical role in quality healthcare. Somnia’s mission is to provide the best patient care through experienced, caring clinicians, and we believe that skilled anesthesiologists cannot and should not be replaced by a simple machine.
Have you ever used a Sedasys, or any other type of anesthesia machine? What was you experience? What place do you think these machines have in the future of anesthesia? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below…