Do we really need an anesthesiologist for routine colonoscopy in American Society of Anesthesiologist 1 and 2 patients?

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Abstract

Purpose of review

In an era where healthcare costs are being heavily scrutinized, every expenditure is reviewed for medical necessity. Multiple national gastroenterology societies have issued statements regarding whether an anesthesiologist is necessary for routine colonoscopies in American Society of Anesthesiologist (ASA) 1 and 2 patients.

Recent findings

A large percentage of patients are undergoing screening colonoscopy without any sedation at all, which would not require an independent practitioner to administer medications. Advances in technique and technology are making colonoscopies less stimulating. Advantages to administering sedation, including propofol, have been seen even when not administered under the direction of an anesthesiologist and complications seem to be rare. The additional cost of having monitored anesthesia care appears to be a driving factor in whether a patient receives it or not.

Summary

A large multiinstitutional randomized control trial would be necessary to rule out potential confounders and to determine whether there is a safety benefit or detriment to having anesthesiologist-directed care in the setting of routine colonoscopies in ASA 1 and 2 patients. Further discussion would be necessary regarding what the monetary value of that effect is if a small difference were to be detected.

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