Ask Dr. Dubbink: What Can I Expect When I Go Into Surgery?

The idea of anesthesia can cause apprehension. Summit’s lead anesthesiologist, Dr. Douglas Dubbink, explains exactly what a patient can expect when they are prepared for surgery.

Anesthesia

“We all fear the unknown,” says Dr. Douglas Dubbink, lead anesthesiologist at Summit Orthopedics. “There are patients who feel nervous about what I do, and there’s a lot of pervasive misinformation about anesthesia. It’s part of my job to provide accurate information to mitigate some of the anxiety people feel about surgery.”

Dr. Dubbink believes that educating patients about their procedure can go a long way toward creating a better surgical experience. “I enjoy answering my patients’ questions and explaining how our anesthesia protocols at Summit help to keep them out of harm’s way,” he says. He takes us step by step through a patient’s experience of being prepared for surgery.

Customized protocols for anesthesia

At Summit, protocols have been put into place that are tailored to a patient’s condition, any comorbidities the patient may have, and the kind of surgery being performed. These protocols ensure that every test the anesthesiologist and surgeon need on the day of surgery has been done and is in hand prior to surgery.

What to expect: Before surgery

Patients arrive an hour and a half in advance of a surgery to handle paperwork. Before patients are taken to the surgery room, a nurse will place monitors and prepare the patient for an IV. Then, Dr. Dubbink meets with them for about 10 to 15 minutes. “Don’t expect to meet your anesthesiologist a month before your surgery,” he cautions. “If a Summit patient has major concerns about anesthesia, I am happy to call and talk with him or her ahead of time, but typically my conversation with the patient happens just before the procedure. I introduce myself, explain what is going to happen, and describe our surgical team and all the things we are going to monitor during the entire surgery.”

What to expect: In the operating room

Patients are taken to the operating room on a cart, and can expect about five to seven minutes of additional preparation before anesthesia is administered. “Beginning a procedure is a busy time, and it can be a little intimidating,” Dr. Dubbink explains. “Here’s what has to happen. The patient slides from the cart over to the surgical bed. That takes a little time. Then we plug in the pre-placed monitors we need to track the patient’s pulse, blood pressure, and heart rate. The scrub tech meets the patient and, as a safety check, asks the patient which extremity are we working on and what are we doing. That way, the tech knows that everyone is in agreement. The person is positioned correctly on the bed in the operating room and then we start the anesthetic.

“We don’t ask patients to count back from 10 anymore,” Dr. Dubbink grins. “Now we’ll ask them to choose a nice dream or happy thoughts and then take a few big breaths. Usually, three or four breaths will do the trick.”

“One of the most rewarding parts of my job is reassuring patient concerns,” says Dr. Dubbink. “It is great when an anxious patient wakes up in the recovery room and says, “Are we done? That went really fast! I don’t know what I was so nervous about.”

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  • Douglas A. Dubbink, M.D.

    “My goal is to improve my patient’s surgical experience. I strive to provide calm gentle reassurance for patients who are anxious about anesthesia and ensure that every patient is skillfully cared for throughout their entire procedure. When a patient awakens after surgery and openly wonders why they were so nervous previously, I know I’ve done my job.”

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