An Overview of Monitored Anesthesia Care


The prospect of undergoing a surgery can make most people a little nervous, and the medical industry continually seeks to make to make the patient experience as comfortable as possible. Monitored anesthesia care is used in more and more cases when performing surgery, and it is used more commonly for procedures like colonoscopies. Many people have questions about what monitored anesthesia care is, and we will cover the basics in this article.

Confusion with Billing

Monitored anesthesia care is a term that came about in the late 1980s to alleviate confusion between billing departments and insurance companies. This is because anesthesia was divided into three terms, general, regional, and local standby. The last classification — local standby — was sometimes misinterpreted by insurance companies to mean that no service had been provided and that, therefore, no payment was necessary. The name was later changed to monitored anesthesia care by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, and this name demonstrates the active nature of this term.

Diagnostic Testing

The providers of monitored anesthesia care are not typically involved in providing the services or procedures done to the patient, but they, instead, follow the standard level of care given by other givers of anesthesia. This includes administering the pre-anesthetic assessment that seeks to determine the physical condition of the patient as well as the potential for morbidity. The patient can expect to undergo laboratory testing that will alert the physician to the presence of any underlying diseases or conditions. These tests and screenings will help the anesthesiologist to eliminate the chance for complications during surgery.

Levels of Sedation

Monitored anesthesia care differs from other types of sedation. It is different from conscious sedation which allows the patient to completely stay alert during the procedure. With MAC, the patient can be put to sleep, but they retain the ability to breathe on their own without the use of a breathing tube. MAC also gives the ability to use the level of sedation that is necessary for the operation.

The lowest level, or minimal sedation, allows the patient to be able to respond to verbal commands, though they will be somewhat impaired. Moderate sedation, or analgesia still allows for patient response, though the sedation is deeper than at the first level. Deep sedation has the patient unconscious, though they are still able to respond to pain should that occur, and the deepest level of sedation, or general anesthesia leaves that patient unable to respond to stimulus of any kind.

The main benefit of using monitored anesthesia care is that allows the patient to only go under as deeply as they would need to go for their surgery. The recovery times are much faster as a result, and it requires less or no intervention to help the patient breathe properly on their own. Surgeries that use MAC are less risky as a result.

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