Anesthesia assistants (AA) create a safe environment for patients at their most vulnerable time. As members of an anesthesia care team, we optimize the quality of care and efficiency for procedures, and we've established a care model that has received international recognition. We are involved in perioperative care and difficult airways procedures, crisis management and integrated inter-professional, collaborative care processes.
AAs are health care professionals with a registered respiratory therapy or registered nurse designation who have gone through additional training obtained from an accredited anesthesia assistant educational institution. We are endorsed by the Canadian Society of Anesthesiologists.
AAs practice under clearly defined medical directives, policies and standard protocols as well as orders prescribed by anesthesiologists. We are core non-physician members of the Anesthesia Care Team (ACT). The ACT is a physician-led approach to the delivery of anesthesia care.
As an integral member of the Anesthesia Care Team, the AA participates in the care of surgical and non-surgical patients during general, regional or local anesthesia. The AA assists the lead anesthesiologist with all aspects of the care planned for a specific patient (pre-anesthetic preparation, induction, maintenance, alteration of anesthesia levels, administration of adjunctive treatment, emergence and continuity of care into and during the postoperative period). Under the supervision of an anesthesiologist and relying on medical directives, an AA initiates, maintains and recovers a patient under conscious sedation and/or monitored anesthesia care.
The AA assists with the administration of peripheral nerve and neuraxial anesthesia preoperatively and provides intraoperative conscious sedation, monitoring and intervention as required.
Taking supervision from an anesthesiologist, an AA maintains stable surgical patients under general anesthesia. The AA provides constant assessment, evaluative monitoring and pharmacologic titration of the depth of anesthesia, patient analgesia and muscle relaxation utilizing medical directives as applicable. Anesthetic agents, narcotics, muscle relaxants, vasoactive drugs, antibiotics and other medications are administered as ordered and indicated.
AAs also perform activities such as insertion and management of intravenous and arterial catheters, endotracheal intubation and blood and fluid administration. As part of the Anesthesia Care Team, an AA also supports the care of unstable surgical patients with the anesthesiologist.
In addition to these responsibilities, an AA provides technical support to the anesthesiologist for complex equipment. An AA works in the operating, preoperative and postoperative care areas, as well as areas removed from the operating room such as the cardiac catheterization lab, interventional area, angiography lab, and the echocardiology lab.
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