Movie buffs and science fiction fans certainly remember HAL, the computer in 1968’s hit movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Considered one of the greatest villains in film history, HAL was capable of reasoning and language processing to assist the astronauts on their space mission. Ultimately, however, HAL decided that its best course of action was to kill all the astronauts. “I am putting myself to the fullest possible use,” said HAL, “which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.”
Forty-five years later, the FDA in its wisdom has given premarket approval to the Sedasys® Computer-Assisted Personalized Sedation System, developed by Ethicon Endo-Surgery Inc. The device has the potential to “redefine sedation delivery”, according to Ethicon’s press release, with propofol sedation “personalized to the needs of each patient, by precisely integrating drug delivery and comprehensive patient monitoring.” The Sedasys device is designed for “healthy” adult patients who undergo colonoscopy and esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) procedures electively.
Ethicon expects to introduce the system into clinical practice on a limited basis in 2014 to address “the growing preference for propofol sedation in gastroenterology by more closely matching the skill level of the sedation delivery team with the actual requirements of less complex cases.”
According to the FDA’s overview, the Sedasys is a “first-of-a-kind device that will allow non-anesthesia practitioners to administer propofol during colonoscopy and EGD procedures.” It links clinical monitors to an IV infusion pump, and will automatically modify or stop the infusion if it detects “signs associated with oversedation” such as oxygen desaturation.
You don’t have to read much between the lines to conclude that the goal here is to make colonoscopies and EGDs cheaper by allowing people other than qualified anesthesia practitioners to administer propofol.