There has been public concern in the community recently regarding the safe use of sedative and anaesthetic drugs for minor surgery. The Hong Kong College of Anaesthesiologists and the Society of Anaesthetists of Hong Kong would like to make the following statement:

The development of modern anaesthesiology made complicated major surgery possible. When conducted properly by trained practitioners with appropriate facilities, judicious use of the analgesic, sedative and anaesthetic drugs can also allow diagnostic or minor surgical procedures to be performed outside the operating room and even outside the hospital. However, potential serious side effects associated with the use of these drugs include unconsciousness, respiratory depression, seizures and cardiac arrest. These could be lethal if not managed accordingly. To be qualified as a specialist anaesthetist in Hong Kong, medical practitioners must undergo a minimum of six years of postgraduate training and pass three professional examinations. Upon completion of training, the Fellowship of Hong Kong College of Anaesthesiologists and subsequently Fellowship of Hong Kong Academy of Medicine would be awarded. Practicing specialist anaesthetists are required to register in the Specialist Register of the Medical Council of Hong Kong and hence would be under the regulation of the Medical Council.

Although there is no restriction on the use of anaesthetic drugs by practitioners who are not specialist anaesthetists, our expertise leads us to recommend that practitioners should take the following precautions related to the use of analgesic, sedative and anaesthetic drugs:

  • Have a thorough understanding of the pharmacology of the drugs to be administered, especially the side effects.
  • Conduct an assessment of the patient to determine the suitability for sedative drugs.
  • Have another medical practitioner or a qualified nurse trained in resuscitation to monitor the patient, in addition to the practitioner or nurse who are required for and preoccupied with the procedure.
  • Have resuscitation drugs and equipment available at the location of the procedure.

Patients should be well informed of the risks inherent with the use of these analgesic, sedative and anaesthetic drugs. Specialist anaesthetists should be consulted if needed. Guidelines and recommendations regarding the safe use of sedative drugs can be found in various international anaesthetic, medical and surgical organizations, and a suggested guideline is also available from the Hong Kong College of Anaesthesiologists web site .

The Hong Kong College of Anaesthesiologists

The Society of Anaesthetists of Hong Kong

Enquiry: The Hong Kong College of Anaesthesiologists Office (Tel: 28718833)