2022 Top Doctor: Harkanwal Sachdev, M.D.

Editorial StaffMarch 3, 2022
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Photography by Steve Craft
Photography by Steve Craft

Anesthesiology

Med School/Year Graduated: University of California, San Francisco/2006

Years in Practice: 12

Patients are typically paired with their anesthesiologists through their surgeons. Is there any circumstance in which a patient hand-selects an anesthesiologist?

Oftentimes, patients will request one of us for repeat anesthetics after developing a relationship… and surgeons will request anesthesiologists they feel would be the best for certain cases. I [also] frequently take care of inpatients who may have multiple anesthetics during their hospitalization… and we’re able to develop a more meaningful relationship.

Do ever meet with patients on a clinical one-on-one basis?

I often call patients or do evaluations before surgeries to discuss the anesthetic and any concerns a patient may have. And, of course, we meet every patient the day of their procedure before they receive anesthesia and discuss their care.

Have any of your patients recounted spiritual, hallucinatory or otherwise fantastical experiences they had while under anesthesia?

I often have patients tell me about very interesting things they remember right before they go under. Mostly people say really interesting things as they are emerging from anesthesia… and not all safe for print! Thankfully, I haven’t had anyone recall surgery while under general anesthesia.

Do patients often express anxiety about “going under”? How do you calm their nerves? 

Yes, almost everyone is anxious before undergoing anesthesia. I tell every patient that a degree of anxiety is a normal and healthy response to having a procedure with anesthesia. I reassure my patients that my sole focus is to be with them and do my absolute best to ensure a safe anesthetic.

What, in your opinion, has been the most significant development or change in the field of anesthesiology over the last 20 years?

The technology for our “anesthesia machines” has really evolved and allowed us to take care of very critical patients. Over the last 20 years, these machines have been capable of doing so much more than when I was in training. It’s quite impressive to see!

You graduated from UC San Francisco. What do you miss most about the Bay Area? 

The diversity of the Bay Area. It’s such a melting pot of cultures blessed with a variety of people, food and traditions. It’s really an exciting and fun place to be. I really miss exploring all the different things the area has to offer.

Name the best depiction of your field in TV or film that you’ve ever seen.

It’s funny, because I find most depictions of medicine to be fairly inaccurate. Anesthesia usually doesn’t get a very realistic depiction. It’s a mysterious field and most representations seem a little off. My favorite medical show of all time is ER, though. I still watch reruns of that show!

What are your hobbies and interests outside medicine?

As a native of Arizona, I’m a die-hard Suns and Cardinals fan. I even make my kids watch the games with me. Still waiting on one of our teams breaking through to win it all.

What are you watching on Netflix these days? 

I am currently watching the latest season of Ozark. My wife and I are also watching Ted Lasso together.

“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be…”

In real estate. I’m passionate about houses and the real estate market. I love seeing things built from scratch, so maybe I’d be a developer!

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