Ambulatory surgical procedures are becoming more common. A recent study examined the effect of short-acting anesthetics on patients' driving abilities pre- and post-surgery.
Researchers tested 198 patients scheduled for minor, same day surgery. They used a driving simulator that reproduced a drive similar to one from the hospital to the patient's home.
The primary measurement used for evaluation was the amount of weaving while driving. Other measurements included the number of accidents or driving violations, such as running red lights.
Researchers found very little change in the amount of weaving before (1.63 feet) and after (1.64 feet) surgery. They concluded that the anesthesia drugs administered during surgery had worn off by the time of the discharge of the patient.
An interesting finding was that older patients drove more cautiously, which led to better overall scores than those of younger patients. Researchers also noted that patients who drove safely before the surgery continued their safe driving after the minor surgery.
The Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation funded the study, which researchers presented at the recent Anesthesiology 2011 meeting.