Doctors in Colorado are urging their patients to disclose their cannabis use habits if the patients are due to undergo a surgical procedure regardless of whether that surgery is routine or major surgery.
This call comes after a small study was done on how the medical community was using one common anesthetic drug, propofol, which is used to sedate patients before surgery. The researchers found that on average, the people who used marijuana required approximately thrice the amount of sedation that non-cannabis users required.
These results made the researchers to wonder what additional risks, such as breathing problems, marijuana users may face when they undergo surgery using such high amounts of anesthetics.
In partial response to such concerns, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists updated the guidelines its members use during their work. The amended guidelines now require anesthetic nurses to take additional steps to keep the airways of marijuana users clear while the patients undergo surgery. Another provision also advises the nurses to refrain from using any anesthetic drugs (sedatives) that could potentially affect the heart rate of marijuana users.
The doctors in Colorado explain that they picked interest in the patients’ use of marijuana because the drug can affect how much sedation should be administered prior to a surgical procedure.
Luckily for the medical professionals in Colorado, marijuana has been legal for years, so patients are unlikely to be guarded about revealing their cannabis use habits. This is because the stigma directed at marijuana users has been knocked back to a great extent.
This open discussion with doctors is timely, because the National Survey on Drug Use and Health done in 2017 indicated that the number of people in Colorado who reported that they had used marijuana at least once within the past 30 days increased to 17 percent from 8 percent in 2006 when a similar survey was done. For comparison, the average past 30-day marijuana use in the country is 9 percent.
The larger proportion of people using marijuana in the state means that more people could be exposed to risks during and after surgery if the patients aren’t forthcoming to their doctors so that appropriate precautions are taken.
While more research may still be needed to ascertain what specific effects marijuana use brings to patients besides requiring larger doses of sedatives, it is in your best interest to let your doctor know even if you live in an area where marijuana is still illegal. The risks of keeping quiet about your marijuana use as you go in for surgery outweigh those of full disclosure.
For now, everyone, including marijuana industry participants like Willow Biosciences Corp. (CSE: WLLW) and Youngevity International Inc. (NASDAQ: YGYI), who minds about people’s health would like the scientific community to speed up their inquiry into what the medical community needs to do to keep marijuana users safe before, during and after undergoing surgery. Otherwise, scaremongers may use the gap to spread unfounded rumors about cannabis use.
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