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Anxiety about anesthesia may up postponements
Lack of understanding and apprehension about anesthesia might lead as many as one in four patients to postpone surgery, according to the Vital Health Report, a quarterly health survey of Americans by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).
The survey was administered online June 7-9, 2010, to 1,019 Americans split evenly between men and women age 18 plus. The survey consisted of 44 questions.
More than 75% of Vital Health Report respondents expressed concern about the use of anesthesia during surgery. However, anesthesia-related mortality rates have decreased dramatically over the past 25 years, from two deaths per 10,000 anesthetics administered to one death per 200,000 to 300,000 anesthetics administered. To put this into perspective, a person is about 40 times more likely to be struck by lightning than they are to die from anesthesia-related complications, according to the ASA.
The Vital Health Report also found that there is a lack of knowledge about anesthesia. Nearly 40% of Vital Health Report respondents incorrectly believe that being under general anesthesia is the same as being asleep, while 17% of those surveyed mistakenly think that general anesthesia numbs a small area of the body without altering a patient's awareness.
The ASA urges Americans to educate themselves about anesthesia and to maintain their health. It suggests patients not only live a healthy lifestyle, but also make sure they know the status of the underlying vital measures that ultimately define their health and impact wellness and positive medical outcomes.
Outpatient surgery staff can encourage patients to go to www.knowyourvitalhealth.com to learn more about anesthesia and to use the Know Your Vital Health Tool. The tool offers a series of health-related questions from which patients receive a customized, anonymous report of health and wellness information that can help them better understand their health status and anesthesia risks. The tool also offers health management and modification suggestions.
The ASA suggests these tips to patients who will be undergoing a procedure that requires anesthesia: