May 12, 2015

WINNING THE WAR ON WAGES:

New machine could one day replace anesthesiologists (Todd C. Frankel May 11, 2015, Washington Post)

For now, the Sedasys anesthesiology machine is only getting started, the leading lip of an automation wave that could transform hospitals just as technology changed automobile factories. But this machine doesn't seek to replace only hospital shift workers. It's targeting one of the best-paid medical specialties, making it all the more intriguing -- or alarming, depending on your point of view.

Today, just four U.S. hospitals are using the machines, including here at ProMedica Toledo Hospital. Device maker Johnson & Johnson only recently deployed the first-of-its-kind machine despite winning U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in 2013. The rollout has been deliberately cautious for a device that hints at the future of health care, when machines take on tasks once assumed beyond their reach.

Everyone is watching to see how this goes.

 Resident nurse Rachen Roudebush checks Lisa McLaughlin's breathing after her colonoscopy at the ProMedica Toledo Hospital. (Dustin Franz for The Washington Post)
"We've had a lot of anesthesiologists who've been dropping by to get a look," said Michael Basista, the gastroenterologist who was about to work on Youssef-Ringle.

Then Sedasys did its job. And his patient was out cold.

Anesthesiologists tried to stop Sedasys.

They lobbied against it for years, arguing no machine could possibly replicate their skills or handle an emergency if something went wrong. Putting someone to sleep is an art, they said. Too little sedation, and the patient feels pain. Too much, and the patient dies. Anesthesiology requires four years of training after medical school, meaning careers might not launch until the doctors are in their 30s. It's one reason the profession's median salary is $277,000 a year, according to research firm Payscale.

Posted by at May 12, 2015 8:09 PM
  

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