Why this U.S. Anesthesia Partners exec is excited about AI in the operating room

The U.S. anesthesia industry is facing several headwinds in 2024. From the impact of declining CMS reimbursements to ongoing staffing shortages and the interference of weight loss medications, including glucagon-like peptide 1 receptors, on patients, leaders have a lot to grapple with. 

Richard Dutton, MD, anesthesiologist and chief quality officer for U.S. Anesthesia Partners, told Becker's the industry trends he is keeping an eye on right now, from workforce shortages to the impact of prescription weight loss medications. 

Question: Are you concerned about the growing number of patients using weight loss medications? What impact is that having on the anesthesia industry? 

Dr. Richard Dutton: Yes and no. Weight loss is good, but we have to be sensitive to side effects and unintended consequences from any new medication that our patients are taking. We also have to be careful to avoid "management by anecdote" in situations where we should be data-driven. We are seeing case reports (and personal experience) with patients on GLP-1 medications who have full stomachs in situations when they shouldn't, increasing the risk for catastrophic aspiration — but this can usually be managed successfully. Big picture, there is no evidence yet for a systematic increase in the risk of aspiration. It's likely there but may be at such a small order of magnitude that it doesn't affect safety overall.

Q: Are you seeing any cons with weight loss drugs and their connection to anesthesia/anesthesia side effects? 

RD: The concern is for an unexpected full stomach, leading to catastrophic aspiration. Some concerns have been expressed about glucose rebound in patients who stop the drugs preoperation. 

Q: How is USAP addressing the continually growing anesthesiologist shortages in the U.S.?

RD: We are continuously investing in recruiting and retention efforts. I'm most proud of our work establishing anesthesia residencies in four of our cities and are exploring expedited pathways to bring non-U.S. anesthesiologists into practice here.

Q: What other major trends are you watching in anesthesia right now? 

RD: Advancing IT integration, supported by machine learning and other AI technology, is going to fundamentally change how we manage patients minute-to-minute in the operating room. This will free our hands and minds to advance care in other ways for the benefit of our patients, including even more hands-on support of sicker patients, as well as novel procedures. 

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Webinars

Featured Whitepapers

Featured Podcast