National Anaesthesia Day

ANZCA National Anaesthesia Day is celebrated each year across Australia and New Zealand on October 16, the anniversary of the day in 1846 that ether anaesthetic was first demonstrated in Boston, Massachusetts. 

The aim of National Anaesthesia Day is to raise awareness of the role anaesthetists play in patients’ preparation for an operation, their wellbeing during their operation and their recovery.

This year's theme is "anaesthesia and ageing"

Older patients are more sensitive to anaesthetic drugs; more likely to develop complications and infections; and take longer to recover from anaesthesia. The video below outlines the kinds of things you should discuss with your anaesthetist before surgery, including any medical conditions you might have and any medication you are taking. 

How do medical conditions and medications affect anaesthesia?

Older patients are more likely to be taking medications, some of which may react with anaesthetic drugs or they may have medical conditions that could be aggravated by anaesthesia. These might include:
  • High blood pressure or heart disease.
  • Breathing problems or lung disease.
  • Diabetes.

Will my memory and thinking be affected by anaesthesia?

The older you are, the more likely you are to suffer from post-operative confusion. However, if this happens, it is usually temporary – affecting fewer than 20 per cent of older patients for longer than three months after anaesthesia. In some very rare cases, deterioration may persist or worsen. This may be more obvious in patients who already had some cognitive decline before their anaesthesia.

Is an operation the best option?

Anaesthetists are highly skilled at managing older, sick patients. However, an operation may not be the only option. The decision not to operate may in fact reflect the best possible care in some cases. Pain can often be managed without an operation so patients and their families should talk to their anaesthetist about the risks and benefits of an operation and anaesthesia compared with alternative treatment options.

How can I prepare for my operation?

There are many things you can do such as stop smoking, improve your fitness and make sure you eat well. It is important to talk to your anaesthetist about your medications and any medical conditions that may affect your anaesthesia. Your anaesthetist will advise you on what is best for your individual situation.


How anaesthetists can get involved

Our ANZCA National Anaesthesia Day has grown a lot each year, with very strong Fellow and trainee, hospital and community participation, accompanied by widespread media coverage.
Some hospitals and clinics set up comprehensive foyer displays, others simply display the ANZCA National Anaesthesia Day posters and patient information (see examples from 2016). 

We aim to have a National Anaesthesia Day champion in as many hospitals in Australia and New Zealand as possible. These are anaesthetists we can send promotional material (such as posters and flyers) to and help to set up foyer displays.

If you have a colleague with a particular interest in anaesthesia and ageing, or is perhaps conducting research, please let us know. We're always looking for research stories to promote to the media.


Resources for hospitals and private practices

We have produced a series of resources aimed at helping patients understand the effects of anaesthesia on the ageing body and encouraging them to discuss their options with their anaesthetist.  

Here are three ways everyone can help

  1. Mark Monday October 16 in your diaries.
  2. Follow our hashtag #NAD17 on Twitter.
  3. Put up a poster. We will be sending these to all hospitals in September 2017 or they can be printed off this website.
If you are able to help or have any other ideas, please email us or call Carolyn Jones in Australia on +61 3 8517 5303 or Susan Ewart in New Zealand on +64 4 495 9787.

Previous National Anaesthesia Days

Each year we look at a different aspect of anaesthesia. Click on the images below to see past themes.

Copyright © Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.