No, I’m not talking about putting fentanyl into my own veins — a remarkably bad idea. I’m questioning the habitual, reflex use of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, in clinical anesthesiology practice. I’ve been teaching clinical anesthesiology, supervising residents and medical students, in the operating rooms of academic hospitals for the past 18 years. Anesthesiology residents often ask if I “like” fentanyl, wanting to know if we’ll plan to use it in ...

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A commencement address delivered on August 5, 2017, to the 2017 class of anesthesiologist assistants (AAs), Emory University. Distinguished faculty, graduates, honored guests: It is a great pleasure and an honor to be here, and to congratulate all the graduates of the Emory University Class of 2017 on your tremendous accomplishment. Just think about all you have learned in the past two years. You’ve transformed yourselves into real anesthesia professionals, able to ...

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There are two schools of thought about how to extubate patients at the conclusion of general anesthesia: Allow the patient to wake up with the endotracheal tube in place, gagging on the tube and flailing like a fish on a line, while someone behind the patient’s head bleats, “Open your eyes!  Take a deep breath!” Or: Remove the endotracheal tube while the patient is still sleeping peacefully, which results in the smooth emergence ...

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I wish I knew who coined the term “DRexit” so I could send flowers or a bottle of whiskey as a thank you gift. There couldn’t be a more perfect term to describe the growing exodus of physicians from our beloved profession, which is turning into a morass of computer data entry and meaningless regulations thought up by people who never touch a patient. The one bright note on the horizon ...

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My husband and I, both anesthesiologists, enjoy our Sunday mornings together -- coffee, the New York Times, a leisurely breakfast. No rush to arrive in the operating room before many people are even awake. Today, though, seeing reporter Jan Hoffman’s front-page article in the Times -- “Staying Awake for Your Surgery?” -- was enough to take the sparkle out of the sugar. Her article on how much better it ...

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In the interests of full disclosure, I acknowledge with delight that I have a non-time limited board certificate from the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA), issued before the year 2000. I can just say “no” to recertification. The more I learn about the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and its highly paid board members, the more disillusioned I’ve become. It’s easy to see why so many physicians today have concluded ...

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Classic rock music lovers who think they don’t like poetry, and literary purists who think they don’t like popular music, may have been equally baffled to hear that Bob Dylan is a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. As an unrepentant English major, I’m delighted. I can’t remember a time when Dylan’s music wasn’t a part of my growing up, from the rebelliousness of the anti-Vietnam era to ...

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You may have read about the recent tragic deaths of two healthy children -- Marvelena Rady, age 3, and Caleb Sears, age 6 -- in California dental offices. Unfortunately, they aren’t the first children to die during dental procedures, and unless things change, they probably won’t be the last. State Senator Jerry Hill has asked the Dental Board of California (DBC) to review California’s present laws and regulations ...

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When Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor, he decided that you and I don’t need to have physicians in charge of our anesthesia care, and he signed a letter exempting California from that federal requirement. Luckily most California hospitals didn’t agree, and they ignored his decision. When he needed open-heart surgery to replace a failing heart valve, though, Governor Schwarzenegger saw things differently. He chose Steven Haddy, MD, the chief of cardiovascular anesthesiology ...

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A fentanyl overdose led to the recent death of musician and singer Prince, according to the medical examiner’s report released June 2. The drug seems likely to become as notorious as propofol did after the death of Michael Jackson in 2009. For all of us in anesthesiology who’ve been using fentanyl as a perfectly respectable anesthetic medication and pain reliever for as long as we can remember, it’s startling ...

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