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The American Society of Anesthesiologists is an educational, research and scientific association of physicians organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology and improve the care of the patient.


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April 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 4
Society for Airway Management: Elevating the Standard of Airway Safety Richard M. Cooper, B.Sc., M.Sc., M.D., F.R.C.P.C., President Society for Airway Management

The Society for Airway Management (SAM) was founded in 1995 to promote safe airway management through research, education and the development of teaching resources. It grew out of a shared concern that safe airway management should be a defining skill (particularly for anesthesiologists) and that, too often, unsuccessful approaches were repeated with increasing harm, often because alternatives were unfamiliar or unavailable. Our goal is to elevate the standard of care and enhance airway safety.

We have since become a multidisciplinary, international society. Our members include anesthesiologists; critical care, emergency and pulmonary physicians; otolaryngologists; CRNAs; EMTs; and respiratory therapists. In addition, we have several industry members involved in the manufacturing or distribution of the equipment we use. This results in a healthy collaboration, facilitating the development or improvement of devices and techniques. Our members literally come from all but the polar continents and actively participate in our online forum, newsletter and annual scientific meeting and workshop. Online discussions are provocative, engaging, collegial and generally helpful. Techniques and devices are often described or clarified by the very person who developed them. Challenging cases are frequently posed with recommendations, counter-recommendations, references, photographs and videos. We look forward to seeing each other at our annual meeting.

The past meeting (our 16th) took place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I had the privilege of serving as chair of our program committee and was assisted by Co-Chair Irene Osborn M.D. The meeting featured designated keynote addresses from Steve Zeitels M.D. (Ovassapian Lecturer), the otolaryngologist who cares for the entertainers Adele and Steven Tyler and the vocal rehabilitation of Julie Andrews (after her surgery), discussing the larynx as a musical instrument and phonosurgical repairs; Dr. Sunita Goel (International Speaker) talking about anesthesia for morbid obesity and medical tourism in Mumbai, India; and Dr. Atul Kapila (Difficult Airway Society Speaker) from Reading, United Kingdom, discussing the changes necessary following the release of the 4th National Audit Project (NAP4). Pro-con debates and case presentations utilized an audience-response system to increase audience involvement. Nearly 90 abstracts were presented. There were 10 work-shops, including one where participants could navigate a bronchoscope through William Rosenblatt’s naso- and hypo-pharynx.

Our next meeting will take place in Philadelphia, September 20-22, 2013. The theme of the meeting is “collaboration,” and the preliminary program looks very exciting. Details and registration will be available through the SAM website (

While our website remains open, it is under reconstruction. We hope it will be a useful portal to access a wide range of airway-related tools and information. It will include two airway bibliographic databases, one featuring publications by SAM members, and the other listing the most important references in each chapter of Benumof and Hagberg’s Airway Management 3rd edition (2012). Also, through the website, SAM members will be eligible for discounts for several books authored or edited by our members, including Benumof and Hagberg’s Airway Management, Hung and Murphy’s Management of the Difficult and Failed Airway (2011), Abdelmalak and Doyle’s Anesthesia for Otolaryngologic Surgery (2012), Glick, Cooper and Ovassapian’s The Difficult Airway, An Atlas of Tools and Techniques for Clinical Management (2013) and Levitan’s Airway Cam Guide to Intubation and Practical Emergency Airway Management (2004).

SAM cooperates actively with The Difficult Airway Society (DAS) of the U.K., the largest subspecialty society of the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland. We exchange sponsored speakers for each society’s annual meeting. This year, I was delighted to represent SAM at the DAS meeting in Cardiff, Wales. Many of our members also participate in the European Airway Management Society (EAMS) and a committee of the European Society of Anaesthesiology.

In the next few months, we look forward to co-sponsoring meetings in Thailand and Turkey. Finally, in conjunction with DAS, we are currently planning a World Airway Management Meeting to take place in Dublin in 2015.

SAM recently embarked on a joint-project with the Anesthesia Quality Institute wherein we will provide advice on airway-related outcomes. Hopefully this will eventually yield useful information that helps in the benchmarking of airway practice and the quantification of airway outcomes.

There are additional benefits to SAM membership, including a discounted subscription to the Journal of Clinical Anesthesia, access to restricted areas of the website, participation in the SAM online forum, subscription to the Airway Gazette and the ability to compete for SAM research grants.

We invite you to visit our website and join us for our 17th Scientific Meeting and Workshop. We are confident that you and your patients will be rewarded.

Richard M. Cooper, B.Sc., M.Sc., M.D., F.R.C.P.C. is Professor, Department of Anesthesia, University of Toronto; Director, Anesthesia Airway Fellowship, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and President, Society for Airway Management.

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