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Brain Damage Due to Over Medication from Anesthesia

 A new web site sponsored by the non-profit Goldilocks Anesthesia Foundation promotes the use of brain monitors during anesthesia to prevent brain damage caused by over medication.

Death isn't always the biggest danger of too much anesthesia, says Goldilocks Anesthesia Foundation. Brain damage is also a hazard for patients undergoing surgery when a brain monitor is not used by the anesthesiologist, reveals the recently formed non-profit organization.

The founder of the organization Barry Friedberg, M.D.  attributes avoidable deaths, variable degrees of temporary mental impairment, and cases of lingering brain damage to anesthesiologists continuing to measure the wrong thing; i.e. changes in vital signs, now known to be inaccurate indicators of brain response to anesthesia.

"The brain is the target for anesthesia," says Friedberg, "It's critical for the brain to be measured with a brain activity monitor; however, most anesthesiologists are not doing this."

So, how can a patient know if a brain monitor will be used during surgery?  By insisting that their anesthesia provider uses one.

Says Friedberg, "If the answer is 'no,' tell them you will find a hospital or surgicenter that does brain monitoring with anesthesia. Taking a firm stand will get attention and as a result, more facilities will use brain monitoring with anesthesia."

The web site can be found by clicking here.




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Elizabeth Adams, MPH

The information on brain activity monitoring (BAM) conveyed on this blog is incomplete and potentially misleading.

The research used to inform current anesthesia practices is insufficient to support using BAM to assess intraoperative depths of anesthesia for ALL patients. The Practice Advisory for Intraoperative Awareness and Brain Function Monitoring, published by the American Association of Anesthesiologists (2006), supports using multiple modalities for this purpose. While information from BAM correlates with some degree of depth of anesthesia, a number of factors can affect this relationship, eg. the anesthetic state, combinations of anesthetic drugs, patient conditions and artifact from operating room devices. Therefore, a specific BAM value may not correlate with a specific depth of anesthesia. Finally, using BAM to preserve the function of vital organs such as the brain may conflict with other goals of anesthesia, namely to prevent intraoperative awareness.

As with many monitoring modalities, the Advisory supports using BAM on a case-by-case basis in selected situations. This blog and Goldilocksanesthesia.com owe it to the public to convey the full picture.

Barry Friedberg, M.D.

For Eliz. Adams,

The whole picture is right here:

Anesthesia over-medication affects 99.9% of Americans 'going under' without a brain monitor while anesthesia awareness affects 0.1%.

Do you know the term 'red herring?'

Now for the rest of the picture:

5 Shocking Reasons Your Brain Isn't Worth Twenty Bucks Exposed

Dementia after 'going under' for surgery can await seniors

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Dec. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- To date, hospitals have not found a billing code that insurers will reimburse them for the $20 cost of the disposable sensor for your brain monitor for 'going under' for surgery.

Anesthesiologists have not told hospitals how important brain monitoring is to avoid postop dementia from routine anesthesia over-medication.

Anesthesiologists have not heard the 'avoid over-medication' message from their leaders because their organizations vitally depend upon millions of dollars in support from America's pharmaceutical companies, aka, 'Big Pharma.'

Big Pharma gets its profits from more drug sales, not less. "If brain monitors were used nationally, as much as 30% of anesthesia drugs would not be sold while Americans would still be getting excellent anesthesia care," opines prominent anesthesiologist, Dr. Barry Friedberg.

Americans do not understand the trail of dollars that appears to keep their (presumed) safety advocates from telling them what they really need to know; i.e. anesthesia over-medication affects 99.9% of Americans 'going under' without a brain monitor while anesthesia awareness affects 0.1%.

Just like too much alcohol is not good, recent studies have also shown that too much anesthesia is not good for your brain as well.

Postop dementia is a very common problem after 'going under' for surgery, especially for seniors. Confusion can last hours, days, weeks months or, in the worst cases, permanently.

"Brain monitors help avoid too much anesthesia and postop dementia," says Friedberg.

Without the voice of a non-profit like Goldilocks Anesthesia Foundation, the American public may never hear what they need to know to be their own safety advocates if they need to 'go under' for surgery.

"The nine essential questions you must ask your surgeon before surgery are on www.GoldilocksAnesthesiaFoundation.org. Download them and take them with you when you first see your surgeon," says Friedberg.

"Cost effective health care starts with caring more about patients than what we do for our drug companies' bottom lines," concludes Friedberg.

Disclaimer: Neither Dr. Friedberg nor the Foundation receive financial support from makers of brain monitors.

Dr. Friedberg's Goldilocks Anesthesia Foundation is a public, non-profit organization whose mission is to educate Americans about the public health risks of anesthesia over-medication and the value of brain monitors in avoiding those risks.

Please visit www.GoldilocksAnesthesiaFoundation.org and www.drfriedberg.com.

SOURCE Barry L. Friedberg, M.D., Goldilocks Anesthesia Foundation

Barry Friedberg, M.D.

From Decisive Magazine June 4, 2010:

Why Patients Should Request A Brain Monitor With Anesthesia

Submitted by Lyndon Conrad Bell on Tue, 05/25/2010 - 12:13

Anesthesiologist Warns of Fatal Dangers Of Going Under

Dr. Barry Friedberg is on a crusade, and it has cost him dearly.

“A lot of people wake up from surgery not quite the same person they were before they went under because of the overuse of anesthetic drugs,” said Dr. Friedberg, a board certified anesthesiologist who has been quoted in numerous medical journals and anesthesia textbooks . He has formed a not-for-profit foundation, called the Goldilocks Anesthesia Foundation specifically to ask patients to request their anesthesiologists use a brain monitor during surgery.

“When we watch a TV show like House or walk through a hospital, we just see a bunch of equipment and monitors, so most people figure that something as logical as a brain monitor would be in use when doctors use general anesthesia. But they aren’t in widespread use at all, and many patients don’t realize they can ask their anesthesiologist to use one. And they should if they want to stay alive and healthy.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 53.3 million surgical and nonsurgical procedures are performed during 34.7 million ambulatory surgery visits each year.

“That’s a lot of surgery, and a lot of people being put under general anesthesia without knowing all the risks,” Dr. Friedberg said. “Without a brain monitor, anesthesiology is not an exact science. So most doctors figure it is better to give the patient more than they need in order to make sure they don’t wake up during the operation. Of course, no one in the healthcare food chain is opposed to using more drugs, as that is a large part of the revenue stream.

With a brain monitor, each patient becomes an open book test instead of a mystery to be solved. Doctors would be able to use a more exact dosage, use less drugs and be safer. Instead of using too little or too much, they’d use a dosage that is just right, hence my reference to Goldilocks with my foundation.”

The risks of being over-anesthetized are many, including long term dementia, memory loss and even death, according to Dr. Friedberg. He added that not enough research has truly been done on anesthesia overdosing, because without widespread use of brain monitors during surgery, there is no way to really pinpoint whether anesthesia is statistically a culprit. That’s why Dr. Friedberg urges all patients to ask if their anesthesiologist uses a brain monitor at the time the surgery is scheduled, and to ask for a different anesthesiologist if the one assigned to them doesn’t use one.

Dr. Friedberg‘s message seems simple and prudent enough, but it has not been adopted by his profession, nor by the healthcare industry, because the major players don’t make much money from its use.

“Some hospitals don’t even have billing codes for the use of a brain monitor, and the pharmaceutical companies sponsoring all the junkets for doctors aren’t fond of them, because they invariably result in the use of lower dosages of the drugs they sell,” Dr. Friedberg added. “I don’t make any money from trying to spread this message. I don’t have a secret deal with the monitor manufacturers and I don’t have an axe to grind with the drug companies. In fact, my crusade has cost me professional relationships as well as money out of my own pocket to promote it. I am just tired of the primary task of my profession being not to kill patients. Instead, we should focus on caring for the patients, and understanding the long term risks of overmedicating patients while in surgery. We should be using every tool available to keep them healthy and reduce unnecessary risks through the entire treatment process.”

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