`U.S. needs more anaesthesiologists'

BANGALORE, FEB. 9. As there is more sophistication in technology, and the population of older people and those who need more surgeries, is steadily increasing, there will be a need for more anaesthetists in the future, Ronald Mackenzie, anaesthesiologist from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, U.S., has said.

Speaking at "Apdate 2004", a seminar on developments in the field of anaesthesia and pain control measures organised by the St. John's National Academy of Health Sciences here on Monday, Dr. Mackenzie said the U.S. was having a shortage of anaesthesiologists and nurse anaesthetists.

This happened following the priority given by the government there, to the need for having more family doctors rather than anaesthesiologists.

He said 10 years ago it saw a decline in the number of students taking up anaesthesia as a speciality.

At present, there were 24,000 anaesthesiologists in the U.S., but there was a need for more, he added.

Opportunities in the 21st Century for those in the field of anaesthesia should be in "perioperative" medicine, acute pain management and research.

Gerard Kamath, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Mayo School of Medicine, spoke on the topic "Physician Assisted Suicide: Whose Life Is it Anyway?"

Quoting instances wherein medical doctors had helped a terminally ill person chose death to relieve him/her from pain and suffering, Dr. Kamath said that Euthanasia was legal in Oregon, U.S. and Holland. While the main argument in favour of physician-assisted suicide was that it could be considered a human right to choose one's death, if life was painful for the patient, the argument against Euthanasia was that legalising it might lead to abuse of the practice, and a disease that was incurable today might become treatable in the future, he said.

Pratibha Varkey from the Mayo Clinic spoke on the need for quality management in health institutions to avoid medical errors.

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