Why ASC leaders should pay attention to weight loss drugs

Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists such as Ozempic have the potential to alter the way ASCs go about procedures.

Two big ways these drugs are affecting ASCs are the way they can change the anesthesia process and care coordination.

"Ozempic and other GLP-1 medications have become the hot topic in the surgical world," Jackie McLaughlin, BSN, RN, manager of surgical services, outpatient infusions and pain clinic at Aspirus Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff, Wis., told Becker's. "The American Society of Anesthesiologists recommends that patients on the GLP-1s hold the medication for one week prior to anesthesia. If the patients that are on the GLP-1 medications are not discovered at least eight days prior to the procedure, the rate of cancellations is going to increase. Having the surgical staff educate the patients on this requirement leaves holes in the care coordination of the patient. For example, if the patient is on the GLP-1 medication for diabetes, they must follow-up with their primary care provider to discuss how to manage their diabetes for the week that they are off of the medication."

Unregulated copycats of GLP-1 medications can cause problems for ASCs and patients alike, Ms. McLaughlin told Becker's.

"Another factor that is concerning my staff are the patients that receive their GLP-1s from markets that are not regulated by the FDA, and therefore not prescribed by a physician," she said. "If the patient fails to disclose they are on this medication, there could be great risk to the patient."

These drugs also have the potential to disrupt orthopedics ASCs for the better. 

"GLP-1 receptor agonists such as Ozempic and Wegovy will be a positive disruptive force in the orthopedic industry, by providing a new way to better control Type 2 diabetes," Thomas DeBerardino, MD, a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon at UT Health San Antonio, told Becker's. "GLP-1 receptor agonists such as these have also been shown to reduce fracture risk in this subset of patients. Reducing hip fractures (by almost 40% in one study) in patients with Type 2 diabetes would be an incredible secondary benefit."

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