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Why Do Doctors Play Russian Roulette With Their Patients' Brains?

Contact: Scott Lorenz, President, Westwind Communications Book Marketing, 248-705-2214, scottlorenz@westwindcos.com 

OPINION, March 22, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- The following is submitted by Barry Friedberg, M.D.:

Every time a patient has anesthesia for surgery or a medical procedure there are the dual risks of under-medication with waking up too soon or over-medication and having your brains scrambled. The anesthesiologist can get close to determining the correct dose using traditional protocol that involves an elaborate piece of guesswork no more reliable than the comical huckster who guesses your weight at the carnival.

Of the two risks, over-medication is the greatest because it can trigger Alzheimer's-like dementia that does not go away. Patients always need to remember that they have to live with the long-term consequences of their short-term anesthesia care. Today patients must absolutely insist on waking up the same person they were before going under.

Unfortunately, almost all anesthesiologists gauge anesthesia response using the classical but, notoriously unreliable, signs of heart rate and blood pressure changes. Most do not rely upon a brain monitor, the best available technology to avoid either over-medication or under-medication.

The first practical brain monitor received FDA approval in 1996 and has been validated in more than 3,500 published scientific studies. The brain monitor can be found in 75 percent of American hospitals but yet is used only 25 percent of the time. Without direct brain response measurement, anesthesiologists are obliged to over-mediate for fear of under medicating (anesthesia awareness).

The dire consequences of anesthesia over-medication include one death every day and up to 40 percent of patients leaving the hospital in a brain fog (technically called Postoperative Cognitive Dysfunction or POCD) that can last as long as a full year after surgery.

Even worse than death or POCD is the major tragedy of patients condemned to the living death of dementia after anesthesia (DAA). Until brain monitoring becomes the 21st standard of care, we will never know the true incidence of DAA.

Going under anesthesia without a brain monitor is like letting someone play Russian roulette with your brain. Measuring is always better than guessing. The next time you or a loved one goes under for surgery, it is your undeniable right to demand a brain monitor.

In fact, in the April 11, 2011 issue of "Current Opinion in Anesthesiology," they conclude: "Given the trivial cost of the BIS (brain monitor) and the proven benefits demonstrated in prospective randomized studies, we consider its use justified in every general anesthetic."

About Dr. Barry Friedberg
Dr. Barry Friedberg, author of Getting Over Going Under, is the #1 authority in the nation on anesthesia for cosmetic surgery. A board certified anesthesiologist for more than three decades, Dr. Friedberg is a propofol expert and has been interviewed by FOX, CNN, True TV, and People Magazine about the misuse of propofol in the death of Michael Jackson. Dr. Friedberg has been published and cited in numerous medical journals and textbooks. He was awarded a U.S. Congressional award for applying his methods on wounded soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.
www.drbarryfriedberg.com, Getting Over Going Under: 5 Things You Must Know Before Anesthesia (ISBN 978-0-9829169-0-2, 2010, Goldilocks Press, 116 pages, $18.95).

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Media Contact: For a review copy of Getting Over Going Under, or to schedule an interview with Dr. Barry Friedberg, please contact Scott Lorenz, President of Westwind Communications Book Marketing, Cell: 248-705-2214 or scottlorenz@westwindcos.com or www.westwindcos.com/book.