Anesthesia can be very dangerous because the patient is unconscious and cannot be monitored using conventional methods.
That is why other means of monitoring vital signs like blood pressure become very important.
For example, if the blood pressure is allowed to drop too low, certain organs like the brain and heart will have reduced blood flow and get less oxygen.
If the brain goes too long without adequate oxygen, it can suffer injury.
If an anesthesiologist has not done their job, the patient can die on the operating table or never wake up again.
Many liken anesthesia to the job of a pilot.
A pilot's flight has three critical phases: take-off, cruising, and landing.
Just like a pilot, the anesthesiologist has three phases as well:
- induction/intubation -- where the patient is knocked out, unconscious, paralyzed, and a breathing tube is inserted into the patient's trachea;
- maintenance -- where continuous dosages of medications are given to keep the patient sedated; and
- emergence/extubation -- where the patient is awakened and the breathing tube is removed.
Any errors during any of these phases can be fatal.