Telling doctors to “mind their own business” when it came to the discussion around gun control resulted in strong words and more, as they posted photos of their bloodstained scrub suits and started the hashtag #ThisIsOurLane.
A Twitter account @ThisIsOurLane was born soon after with over 11,000 followers in less than a week, mostly doctors. From stories of their gunshot patients who survived or died, to graphic images of the results of gunshot wounds, doctors delivered their message: that saving lives is their business.
Many of those who fired back against gun violence were anesthesiologists, including those who have some level of social authority and influence on Twitter.
As well as signing an open letter, many doctors also openly put a name and a face to the solidarity behind the #ThisIsOurLane campaign. Among them is thought leader and anesthesiologist Marjorie Stiegler, M.D. (@DrMStiegler).
Most retweeted post was a line from the Hippocratic Oath, and shared by Anesthesiologist and Stanford professor Dr. Ed Mariano (@EMARIANOMD), that swore in doctors to special obligations as members of society to also prevent disease as they are to cure.
But beyond their call of duty to save lives, what else defines the anesthesiologists’ lane? While they are fixed figures in the operating room, their call of duty is far more expansive in triage areas, emergency departments, and intensive care units.
During large-scale emergency responses, the anesthesiologist plays a crucial role in the triage team, the group that determines priority medical attention among sick and injured patients.
According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Committee on Trauma and Emergency Preparedness “anesthesia care providers should be considered ‘first responders’ as they may be called upon to perform lifesaving emergency treatment, such as intubation or resuscitation.”
Underscored in ASA’s Manual for Anesthesia Department Organization and Management is the anesthesiologist’s knowledge and training to provide life support and stabilizing measures for patients through their intrinsic role in trauma and critical care, perioperative medicine, and pain management.
“In any case scenario of public health emergencies, even a small event, anesthesiologists are very likely to be directly involved in either the operative or critical care of the victims,” according to ASA Committee on Trauma and Emergency Preparedness Manual for Anesthesia Department Organization and Management.
Indiscriminate mass shootings in the US have sent health care providers to an emergency room with casualties at any given time, putting their crisis response and management skills under extreme pressure.
The anesthesiologist is first in line, delivering emergency anesthesia care for those with life threatening conditions and other traumatic injuries. That is their lane.
ASA has prepared its members for this job ahead by coming up with OR Mass Casualty Checklist and the ASA Manual of Anesthesia Department Organization and Management.
As ASA’s Trauma Anesthesiology Statement of Principles read, “A significant percentage of patients who present with trauma require emergent resuscitation, surgical management for temporary stabilization or definitive treatment of injuries, and perioperative critical care management.”
And with an evolving healthcare system, including new models such as the Perioperative Surgical Home, the anesthesiologist even takes a lead role in coordinating a multidisciplinary team approach in patient care. Anesthesiologists are not just on board from the very starting point of care, but also in the recovery process.
The anesthesiologist’s lane of care is expanding, and they need all the help they can get. Innovative digital solutions and health technologies are in their arsenal to equip them and prepare them for the challenges, but their greatest tools thus far are their tenacity, concern, and their “deep connection to their purpose and to their profession.”
Anesthesiologists are lifelines, wired to their lanes to save lives by their hands, their voices, and more. That is their lane.