Features  |   July 2019
Anesthesia Technology – Past, Present and Future: From Cleaners and Stockers to an Important Member of the Anesthesia Care Team
Author Affiliations
  • Joseph F. Answine, M.D., FASA
    ASA Committee on Equipment and Facilities
    ASA Liaison, American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians
  • Joyce M. Freeman, B.S., Cer.A.T.
    President, American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians
  • Delbert Macanas, Cer.A.T.T.
    Immediate Past President, American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians
  • Greg Farmer, Cer.A.T.
    President-Elect, American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians
Article Information
Airway Management / Practice Management / Radiological and Other Imaging / Technology / Equipment / Monitoring / Quality Improvement / Features
Features   |   July 2019
Anesthesia Technology – Past, Present and Future: From Cleaners and Stockers to an Important Member of the Anesthesia Care Team
ASA Monitor 7 2019, Vol.83, 18-19.
ASA Monitor 7 2019, Vol.83, 18-19.
Allow yourself to venture back over three decades. You are an on-the-job trained surgical technician or an emergency medical technician looking for a change. You accept a position as an anesthesia technician, more commonly known as an anesthesia tech. Very quickly, you realize that your sole responsibility is to turn over the anesthesia equipment for the next case, clean the non-disposable portion and discard the disposable. Then, you make sure the syringes, needles, endotracheal tubes, tape, and non-controlled medications are adequately stocked. You question why you made the move to become a glorified O.R. housekeeper. As time goes on, you take an interest in the inner workings of the anesthesia machine, a simplistic volume ventilator with a couple of anesthetic vaporizers attached. You learn how to take it apart and put it back together again by asking questions when the factory-trained technicians are servicing the machine. You begin to assist with various anesthesia procedures that the anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists are performing. Then, out of necessity, due to a lack of hands in emergencies, you learn how to operate the cell saver. You begin to routinely assist with airway management, central line and pulmonary artery catheter placement, drawing blood for ABGs, mixing medications such as life-saving vasoactive drugs for infusions, and running the intra-arterial balloon pump. You are eventually asked to start intravenous lines and run the point-of-care testing devices, starting with glucometers, then ABGs, then ACTs, then TEGs. You are then asked to learn the standards and regulations as they relate to appropriate care and maintenance of anesthesia equipment and medications; you become responsible for keeping the anesthesia department compliant within an ever-changing regulatory environment. As the electronic medical record (EMR) appears, you become the trouble-shooter for these computer systems and their interfaces and assist in the frequent software updates. As anesthesia machines become computer-driven and highly technical pieces of equipment, and as the myriad video laryngoscopes and non-invasive monitoring devices become increasingly available, you are asked to master them as well. You then take the show on the road, making sure that anesthesia equipment is available and operating properly in MRI and CT scanners, ICUs, and out-of-the-way procedure rooms. Eventually, your skills are so unique and invaluable that you routinely carry a pager and take call. You are asked to train others in all of these skills.
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