Every day nearly 200 people die from an overdose of drugs or from alcohol poisoning, with opioids responsible for the majority. Recognizing the signs and knowing how to respond to medical emergencies, including carrying and administering naloxone in cases of opioid overdose, can literally save lives. Here are tips from the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) on what to do in case of a suspected overdose.
(BPT) - Every day nearly 200 people die from an overdose of drugs or from alcohol poisoning, with opioids responsible for the majority. Recognizing the signs and knowing how to respond to medical emergencies, including carrying and administering naloxone in cases of opioid overdose, can save lives, says the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).
“The tragic increase in overdose deaths is an alarming and devastating issue that touches so many of us,” said ASA President Mary Dale Peterson, M.D., MSHCA, FACHE, FASA. “If you can identify an overdose or alcohol poisoning, you are more likely to react quickly, making the difference between life and death for a family member, friend or stranger.”
Physician anesthesiologists have a critical role in fighting against overdoses, starting with managing patients’ pain after surgery or chronic pain in responsible ways. During Physician Anesthesiologists Week, Jan. 26-Feb. 1, ASA is joining forces with U.S. Surgeon General VADM, Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H., to empower everyone to recognize the following signs of an overdose or alcohol poisoning:
Any one of these signs should prompt a call to 911 for emergency medical care. Never leave an unconscious person alone, as they may be at risk of dying, including by choking on his or her own vomit. If an opioid overdose is suspected, naloxone should be administered immediately, if available. Naloxone is administered by injection or nasal spray and access to it is expanding on a state-by-state basis. It can be prescribed by a physician and often is carried by police officers and emergency medical responders. Additionally, it’s increasingly available over the counter at some pharmacies.
“To stem the tide of the opioid overdose epidemic, we need everyone to consider themselves a first responder. We need to encourage everyone in our communities to carry naloxone and know how to use it,” said U.S. Surgeon General, VADM, Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., a physician anesthesiologist who issued a Surgeon’s General’s advisory in 2018 calling for increased awareness and use of the medication. “When on hand, naloxone may mean the difference between life and death, and can be a first step to getting someone onto the pathway of recovery.”
Anyone who takes opioids to manage their pain may be at-risk for an overdose. In recent years, opioids were the go-to pain reliever for everything from backaches and injuries to post-surgical and chronic pain. In 2017, more than 190 million prescriptions were written for opioids. While they can be effective for short-term pain, chronic use can lead to abuse. Every day 130 people die from opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“ASA strongly agrees with the Surgeon General and supports policies that promote access to naloxone and safe and effective pain management care,” said Dr. Peterson. “All of our members have a significant interest in reducing misuse, abuse and diversion of opioids that have led to unintended deaths.”
To learn more about the critical role physician anesthesiologists play before, during and after surgery, visit asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount. ASA also offers an opioid overdose resuscitation guide that provides guidance on symptoms of an overdose and how to help.
As a parent, you want to be sure your child gets the best and safest care. Anesthesia’s effect on the developing brain is being researched continually, and you’ll be comforted to know that anesthesia provided during one brief surgery is considered safe by the experts at the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).
(BPT) - When surgery is necessary, anesthesia ensures your child can safely receive life-saving or corrective treatment while managing the pain and discomfort of the procedure. Anesthesia’s effect on the developing brain is being researched continually, and you’ll be comforted to know that anesthesia provided during one brief surgery is considered safe by the experts at the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).
“Parents should rest assured that surgery is only recommended when necessary and your child will be monitored during every minute of the procedure to ensure the safest and most effective care,” said Linda Mason, M.D., ASA president-elect and a pediatric physician anesthesiologist. “In an effort to continually improve anesthesia, physician anesthesiologists have been at the forefront of research on the effects of anesthesia on children — and adults — and continue to study this important issue.”
As a parent, you want to be sure your child gets the best and safest care. To that end, ASA offers the following guidance:
1. Don’t delay or avoid surgery: Work closely with your child’s surgeon and other physicians to determine if surgery is the right choice. In most cases, delaying or avoiding surgery may mean the child does not receive much-needed care. For example, if your child’s doctor recommends placing tubes to drain fluid in the ears and prevent ongoing infection, not doing the procedure increases the risk of delayed speech and language development, which can affect social and academic success.
2. Talk to the physician anesthesiologist: Highly trained to ensure safe, high-quality care, the physician anesthesiologist will monitor your child through the entire surgery so he or she stays warm, gets enough oxygen, has stable blood pressure and receives necessary fluids. Depending on the location and type of surgery, your child may have more than one anesthesia option. Be sure to ask the physician anesthesiologist about those options as well as any other questions you have, such as:
* How can I ensure my child has a successful surgery?
* How can I help my child prepare?
* Is anesthesia safe for my child?
3. Rest assured that limited exposure is considered safe: Experts note that a single, relatively short exposure to anesthesia and surgery is unlikely to have negative effects on behavior or learning. And most common surgeries in children require anesthesia for less than two hours. Research continues regarding the use of anesthesia in repeated or longer surgeries. But parents should be confident that physicians are aware of the concerns and will only recommend a surgery or procedure if necessary.
“ASA is committed to advancing research regarding this issue and its physician scientist members are active in cutting-edge research both in the laboratory and at the patient’s bedside,” said Dr. Mason. “Through the SmartTots program, ASA partners with the International Anesthesia Research Society and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to support funding to investigate the safety of anesthesia for infants and young children.”
Learn about preparing your child for surgery and questions to ask about anesthesia safety for your young child at asahq.org/kidschecklist. Additionally, download ASA’s companion coloring book for children who are about to undergo anesthesia and surgery.
The American Society of Anesthesiologists
Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 52,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.
For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at asahq.org. To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount. Like ASA on Facebook; follow ASALifeline on Twitter.
(BPT) - Opioids often are the go-to pain killer for everything from back aches and injuries to post-surgical pain, as evidenced by the more than 300 million prescriptions written each year. While they can help with moderate to severe short-term pain, opioids are not without risk. Because they have significant side effects, including an increased risk of addiction and overdose, the American Society of Anesthesiologists suggests those who take opioids ask some tough questions — including if it is time to consider alternatives.
Kathleen Callahan understands the dilemma. She suffers from a condition that causes painful cysts that required multiple surgeries resulting in post-surgical and chronic pain for which she took opioids for years. Despite being on a high dose of opioids, she still had chronic pain. So she turned to Anita Gupta, D.O., Pharm.D., a physician anesthesiologist who specializes in pain medicine.
“When I was on opioids long-term I couldn’t function, couldn’t be involved in my children’s lives and my work was suffering,” said Kathleen. “Dr. Gupta helped me manage my pain so life is livable. Now I exercise, go out with friends and go to my kids’ activities.”
“Kathleen and I had some difficult discussions. I didn’t think the medications were helping her anymore and I was truthful with her,” said Dr. Gupta. “She asked some hard questions, and I helped her move forward and cope with her pain. Since she’s been opioid-free Kathleen is vibrant and energetic. She has her life back.”
If you are taking opioids or your physician has prescribed them, the American Society of Anesthesiologists suggests asking yourself (and your physician) some tough questions:
* Are opioids affecting my quality of life? Opioids have many side effects, ranging from severe constipation, mental fogginess and nausea to depression. Kathleen said she was “exhausted, cranky, depressed, constipated and gaining weight.” She realized the side effects of opioids were worse than the pain itself, motivating her to seek other options.
* What are my concerns about taking opioids — or stopping them? With the media attention surrounding opioid risks, many people worry they:
- are being judged by others
- may become addicted or overdose
- won’t be able to control their pain if they stop taking opioids
Ask your physician about obtaining naloxone, a drug that can reverse an overdose. If you take opioids when you don’t have pain or use more than directed, you may develop a dependence. Talk to your physicians about alternatives to manage your pain.
* Is it time to consider other methods of pain management? Opioids are most effective in the short term. If they are taken for chronic pain, they should be part of a “multimodal” plan that includes other methods of pain management, including:
- Injections or nerve blocks, which can short circuit muscle and nerve pain.
- Electrical stimulation and spinal cord stimulation devices that send electrical impulses to block pain.
- Physical therapy, which strengthens muscles to improve function and decrease pain. Whirlpools, ultrasound and massage can help, too.
- Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, biofeedback, meditation, deep breathing and relaxation, which help you learn how to ease muscle tension.
* What type of physician can best help manage my pain? If you have severe or ongoing pain, be sure to see a physician who specializes in pain management, such as a physician anesthesiologist. These specialists have received four years of medical school and additional training in a medical specialty, followed by an additional year of training to become an expert in treating pain. They have the expertise to best help you manage your pain.
“If I was still on opioids I would be overweight, inactive, not involved in my children’s lives and depressed,” said Kathleen. “When you have a physician like Dr. Gupta who you trust and who shows you there’s another way, it’s just amazing. It’s night and day.”
For more information, download ASA’s Asking the Hard Questions About Opioids. To learn more about the critical role physician anesthesiologists play before, during and after surgery, visit www.asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount.
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