What We Do
Anesthesiology arose as a medical specialty because the dangers associated with anesthetic drugs and techniques demanded that they be administered by skilled and knowledgeable physicians. Anesthesiologists have been pioneers in patient safety and have demonstrated to our colleagues in other specialties how medical care may be delivered more safely through structured interventions and appropriate applications of technology. Great strides have been made in improving acute outcomes associated with surgery and anesthesia. The Anesthesia care team at Washington University is made up of world-renowned specialist anesthesiologists, anesthesiology residents, certified registered nurse anesthetists and nurse anesthesia students. We pride ourselves in our professionalism, teamwork, and the high quality of care that we offer to all our patients. The Anesthesia team participates in the care of patients ranging from premature babies to those who are older and vulnerable. We are integral team members in the obstetric suite, and are called on to assist wherever in the hospital a patient is an acute distress. We staff the preoperative assessment clinic, we help to ensure the smooth running of the operating rooms, we care for patients in the postoperative recovery units, we are available to treat severe pain, and we attend in the surgical and cardiothoracic intensive care units. The anesthesia team is present for the entire period around your time of surgery for each of the more than 80,000 surgical procedures conducted annually at Washington University affiliated hospitals.
Operating Room (OR) Care
If you are undergoing surgery at Washington University, the success of your surgery, your comfort, and your safe postoperative outcome are our top priorities. In the 21st century, the anesthesia team’s primary responsibility in the OR is to ensure your comfort and safety when you are exposed to surgical procedures; this includes protecting you from pain, undesired awareness and organ system injury, and fostering full recovery from the surgical and anesthetic interventions. While anesthesiologists have succeeded in substantially decreasing complications during surgery, it has become increasingly clear that how we provide anesthesia has a profound effect on safety and comfort after surgery. Through our innovative research and cutting edge clinical care, the Anesthesiology Department is leading in ways to improve both short-term and long-term outcomes following surgery.
Preoperative Assessment And Planning (CPAP)
The Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University leads a vibrant and comprehensive center for preoperative assessment and planning. Our aim is to inform you, to assess risk, to optimize preoperative care, and to develop the safest and most fitting care plan for you. As a patient, we hope your attendance at the CPAP clinic will improve your experience before and after your surgery, will alleviate your concerns, and will prepare you well for surgery which can be a stressful time.
Physical pain is among the most unpleasant of human experiences. Anesthesiologists have been at the forefront of building pain management as a vibrant and crucial medical specialty. The Department of Anesthesiology has made major scientific contributions to the understanding of pain mechanisms and to developing novel methods of treatment. Clinicians in the department are involved in the management of chronic pain and of acute pain associated with surgery. If you are undergoing a surgical procedure, we will endeavor to ensure that the pain associated with your surgery is decreased as much as possible. Learn more about Pain Management.
Critical Care Medicine
Many patients undergoing major surgery require admission to intensive care units following their surgery. Intensive care units at Washington University are staffed by multi-disciplinary teams of experts; many of these are anesthesiologists who provide continuity of care from the operating room to the intensive care unit. We appreciate that the prospect of admission to an intensive care unit may be intimidating. We make every effort to accommodate families, to promote patient comfort and to provide the highest level of comprehensive care to our patients. If you are admitted to an intensive care unit after your surgery, we will work tirelessly to ensure that you make a full and uncomplicated recovery from your surgery, and that your experience of the intensive care unit is as reassuring and comforting as possible.
Leadership And Innovation
The anesthesiologists at Washington University participate in and provide leadership to a variety of hospital and university committees. In recent years we have implemented state-of-the-art perioperative medical records. Our department systematically tracks patient outcomes, conducts quality improvement exercises, and uses information obtained through these endeavors to improve patient safety and to ensure that we meet the highest possible standards of care. We have helped to develop cutting edge, world-renowned simulation centers in the medical school, in Barnes-Jewish Hospital and in St. Louis Children’s Hospital. We use simulation as a vehicle for advanced training, to build teamwork, to assess competence and to generate new knowledge.
Research that Improves Patient Care
The Division of Clinical and Translational Research (DoCTR) is the home for patient-oriented research in the Department of Anesthesiology. Numerous translational and clinical research projects are currently led by faculty members in the division, in a wide variety of research areas. These include drug disposition, pharmacogenomics, perioperative myocardial infarction, intraoperative awareness, postoperative cognitive dysfunction, biomarkers, cardiovascular monitoring, coagulation, and functional brain imaging. All investigators have clinical research programs, and some also have laboratory-based translational programs.