The Anesthesiologist & Anesthetist
An anesthesiologist is a physician specifically trained in the art and science of anesthesiology. An anesthetist is a qualified health care professional who administers anesthetics. Most anesthetics are nurses who have graduated from an accredited nurse anesthesia program and have passed examinations sponsored by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). The anesthesiologist uses the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Physical Status Classification System to determine a patient’s status. If a patient has a classification of P2, P3, or P4, he or she has a systemic disease that may or may not be related to the cause of surgery. If a patient with a classification of P1, P2, P3, P4, or P5 requires emergency surgery, an E is added to the physical status designation. Pb refers to a patient who is brain dead and is undergoing surgery as an organ donor. The abbreviations ASA1 through ASA6 are often used interchangeably with P1 or P6 to designate physical status. When the patient arrives in the OR, the anesthesiologist reassesses the patient’s physical condition immediately prior to initiating the anesthesia.