Marc Giménez Milà MD, PhD, EDAIC, EDIC
Department of Anesthesiology. Hospital CLINIC de Barcelona. Spain
No one can doubt that society, the medical profession and individual patients and their families all over Europe have experienced profound changes to accommodate the arrival of this new disease. We will probably take years to realise the real impact in terms of lives lost, long-term disability after prolonged ICU and hospital admission but also from patients with non-COVID pathology whose care has been notably affected. We have learnt very quickly and intensively how to treat patients infected with SARS-Co-2, what treatments not to give and how to offer relatively safe surgery to non-COVID surgical patients. Thrombotic complications, critical illness myopathy and fibrotic lung injury are all well-described complications well known to our wide anaesthesiologist community.
When looking back and analysing the contribution of anaesthesiologists in this pandemic we are tempted to feel a well-deserved degree of pride in how we have serviced our community. Nevertheless, we cannot be complacent and we should all, from the different countries, cities and hospitals analyse how we could have been better, and most importantly continue learning about the long-term disability of some of these patients. Anticipation, sharing of medical equipment (ventilators, PPE) and more robust research and epidemiologic network between countries are all things to think about going forward.
We have been under enormous pressure and many of us have experienced emotional distress. We need to acknowledge it and work closely with the rest of our colleagues to avoid feelings of isolation or being overwhelmed. We need to cure our patients but we will not achieve it if we do not take care of our own emotional state.
Probably our sons and daughters will not suffer a pandemic again, but future generations may do and the errors committed this time should be explained to them and taught in medical schools.
We anaesthesiologists have suddenly removed the cloud of invisibility that we have been used to, and during this pandemic, we can start feeling immensely proud of the enormous contribution we have made. We have grown as a professional community and we will continue running in this marathon against COVID and in favour of our patients. Our professional society resembles the Catalan structure of Castells (see photo) with a solid base with knowledge and skills and our trainees climbing as swift anxenetes. We will soon gather again in these crowded squares and enjoy our lives again.
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