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National Anaesthesia Day - October 16

It’s estimated that more than four million anaesthetics are administered each year across New Zealand and Australia. Increasing people’s understanding about anaesthesia is the focus of ANZCA National Anaesthesia Day being held on Tuesday, October 16.

The public will get the chance to talk to anaesthetists and other medical staff about anaesthesia, how it affects them and what they can do to prepare for an operation. There will be interactive displays at the following hospitals on October 16, which marks the anniversary of the day in 1846 when ether anaesthetic was first demonstrated publicly in Boston.

Whangarei Hospital - main foyer, 8.30am-2.30pm. This will focus on the role of anaesthetists in providing safe anaesthesia for patients and the continuous presence of anaesthetists during surgery - ‘every heart beat is listened to’! There will also be a display of ‘tools of the trade’, anaesthetic equipment ranging from that of paediatric patients to adults.
North Shore Hospital - main foyer, 7.30am-4pm. The displays will focus on “demystifying anaesthesia”, ageing’s effect on anaesthesia, the importance of advance care plans, and the health benefits of exercise prehabilitation in managing frailty.
Middlemore Hospital and Manukau Super Clinic - main entrances of both sites. These will be staffed by specialist and trainee anaesthetists, anaesthetic technicians and preadmission clinic nurses. They will be talking to our patients and the general public about what anaesthesia entails, including the theme “Anaesthesia isn’t sleep. It’s so much deeper”. Once again they will be displaying in conjunction with the Advanced Care Planning team.
Auckland City Hospital - level 5 reception/main foyer, 8am-3pm. The focus is on what anaesthesia is, who anaesthetists are, and what the job involves. People can find out how anaesthesia is different than sleep and how we keep patients safe during their surgery. There will be an anaesthetic machine and ventilator with a SIM man/woman for demonstrations, and there will be demos of Glidescope videolaryngoscopy and USS-guided cannulation/nerve blockade which the public will be able to try out. There will be short talks for medical students interested in finding out about a career in anaesthesia. A video will be playing on a loop on the big screen in the foyer to give people an idea of what anaesthesia involves.
Hutt Hospital - 9am-3pm main foyer. Come chat with anaesthetists and see some of the equipment used in theatre. There will be manikins and equipment, and plenty of information about what you can do to get ready for an operation.
Palmerston North Hospital - 9am- 4pm main foyer. There will be an anaesthesia work station with simulated monitors, an intubation manikin, videos/slide show, ultrasound demos, historic equipment display and anaesthetists to answer your questions.
Wellington Hospital - main foyer from 9am. You’ll be able to view a video, there will be two airway models set up so that visitors can have a go at airway management and intubation and speak with anaesthetists. After 10 an anaesthetic machine and manikin will be set up for an interactive display.
Nelson Hospital - level 2 foyer, 9am-2pm. There will be a staffed display with a simulation manikin with monitors attached, an organ system display and other equipment plus a video and posters.
Dunedin Hospital - main foyer from 9am. The public will be able to see an anaesthetic machine, attempt to intubate a dummy and see how ultrasound machines show us the nerve, veins and arteries under our skin. There will be poster displays and information sheets on a number of topics including analgesia for labour and anaesthesia of joint replacements. Members of the department will be present to help answer questions. There will also be baking!

All these staffed interactive displays will also include poster boards, patient information fact sheets and videos.

Most other public hospitals and some private hospitals around New Zealand will display posters and patient information about anaesthesia.

A four minute video “What is anaesthesia” has been created and this will be available for download
on the ANZCA National Anaesthesia Day website link. [There will be shorter grabs for use in the media available on request.]

The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) promotes National Anaesthesia Day annually to raise public awareness of anaesthesia generally and the range of work anaesthetists do, focusing on a different aspect of anaesthesia each year.

Key messages for patients
It’s a widely held misconception that having a surgical procedure under general anaesthesia is “effectively the same as being asleep”.
• Being under general anaesthesia is very different from sleeping.
• No matter how soundly you sleep, if someone tried to take your appendix out, you’d know about it!
• With general anaesthesia, you’re actually in a carefully controlled state of unconsciousness.
Who is your anaesthetist?
• All anaesthetists are highly trained specialist doctors.
• After finishing medical school and working for at least two years as a junior doctor, they then complete at least five years of training to become a specialist anaesthetist.
Did you know?
• Anaesthesia’s one of the greatest discoveries of modern medicine.
• Many of today’s operations, especially for the very young, very old, or very ill would not be possible without it.
• Australia and New Zealand are two of the safest places in the world to have a procedure under general anaesthetic.

We will have a specialist anaesthetist available for interview on the theme this year.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact ANZCA Communications Manager, NZ, Adele Broadbent on +64 27 576 4644 or +64 4 499 1213 (office), or email Follow us on Twitter @ANZCA.

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