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New anesthesia machines placing patients at the centre of their care

Toronto, May 26, 2014

By Heather Brown

Dr. Alex Ho prepares the anesthesia machine
Dr. Alex Ho, an anesthesiologist, prepares the anesthesia machine for a patient prior to surgery. (Photo by Katherine Cooper)

St. Michael’s is the first teaching hospital in Canada to have acquired a new anesthesiology workstation that contains all the critical components on one platform, allowing anesthesiologists to maintain complete focus on their patients.

All the vital information needed at various points of a patient’s surgical journey can now be accessed by the touch of a screen on the 35 new workstations, before the patient even arrives in the operating room.

“These state-of-the-art workstations have been designed to improve patient care and advance the way anesthesiologists perform their responsibilities during a procedure,” said Dr. Alex Ho, the anesthesiologist who spearheaded the acquisition of these machines.

“The new devices incorporate an ICU-grade ventilator, which enables us to better manage our most critically ill patients and eliminates the need for additional intensive care equipment to be brought into the operating room. The workstations also include a computer with access to the hospital’s IT network and Sorian, which provides all the relevant patient information we require at the point of care.”

The anesthesiologist can continue to view his or her patient’s vital signs in the recovery room by logging onto the computer on a workstation. This can be particularly valuable if the physician is unable to leave the operating room. Similarly, this technology can enhance resident training because it fosters progressive independence, while allowing the supervising physician to follow a patient’s progress from other operating suites in the hospital.

Another significant difference with the new machine is that portable vital sign monitors can be plugged directly into the anesthesia workstation when the patient arrives in the operating room. Previously, patients had to be hooked up to a vital sign monitor every time they changed locations; now they are hooked up to only one monitoring system, which travels with them through all points of their pre- and post-operative care.

“Not only are these machines improving patient care but they are also helping to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dr. Ho. “Through the use of the target controlled anesthesia we are able reduce the amount of waste emitted from the machine and operate them in a more efficient manner.”

Thanks to the improved ICU-grade ventilator, patients can be better weaned from the breathing tube in the operating room. For critically ill patients, this helps minimize the time they spend in the intensive care unit.

“Not only are these machines improving patient care but they are also helping to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dr. Ho. “Through the use of the target controlled anesthesia we are able reduce the amount of waste emitted from the machine and operate them in a more efficient manner.”

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.