New Machine Could One Day Replace Anesthesiologists


surgeryThe new machine that could one day replace anesthesiologists sat quietly next to a hospital gurney occupied by Nancy Youssef-Ringle. She was nervous. In a few minutes, a machine – not a doctor – would sedate the 59-year-old for a colon cancer screening called a colonoscopy.

But she had done her research. She had even asked a family friend, an anesthesiologist, what he thought of the device. He was blunt: “That’s going to replace me.”

One day, maybe. For now, the Sedasys anesthesiology machine is only getting started, the leading lip of an automation wave that could transform hospitals just as technology changed automobile factories. But this machine doesn’t seek to replace only hospital shift workers. It’s targeting one of the best-paid medical specialties, making it all the more intriguing – or alarming, depending on your point of view.

Today, just four U.S. hospitals are using the machines, including here at ProMedica Toledo Hospital. Device maker Johnson & Johnson only recently deployed the first-of-its-kind machine despite winning U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in 2013. The rollout has been deliberately cautious for a device that hints at the future of health care, when machines take on tasks once assumed beyond their reach.

Everyone is watching to see how this goes.

“We’ve had a lot of anesthesiologists who’ve been dropping by to get a look,” said Michael Basista, the gastroenterologist who was about to work on Youssef-Ringle.

Then Sedasys did its job. And his patient was out cold.

Read more at the Washington Post.