Guess Who's Putting You Under

A big chunk of surgery is now handled without an anesthesiologist, raising risks for patients

Last year Dr. Ron Miller was in a hospital pre-op unit doing what he has done every week for more than three decades: administering an anesthetic to a patient headed for surgery. Miller served as an anesthesiologist in the Vietnam War and now chairs the department of anesthesia at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine; it's hard to imagine someone with more experience or better credentials. Even so, he was taken by surprise when he gave a low dose of a moderate sedative called midazolam, designed to put the patient into a semiconscious state, somewhere between sleep and wakefulness--and...

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