ASA Responds to The New York Times "Lifestyle Specialty" Label

Chicago — (February 3, 2014) 

Dear Editor:

As physicians committed to patient safety, the American Society of Anesthesiologists is concerned about the misrepresentation of physician anesthesiologists in your article, “Patients’ Costs Skyrocket; Specialists’ Incomes Soar.” You describe our specialty among those that “…are often called lifestyle specialties…and there are few emergencies in these fields.” This could not be further from the truth.

Physician anesthesiologists have a critical role before, during and after surgery. They remain vigilant throughout each surgical procedure, as even in the most routine procedures, emergencies can occur with little or no warning. It’s when seconds count that physician anesthesiologists apply their 14 years of higher education and 12,000-16,000 hours of training to make split-second decisions that save patients’ lives. For level one trauma centers and high-risk obstetrical units, physician anesthesiologists may be the only physicians present in the hospital 24/7, 365.

We have voluntarily chosen this medical professional because we are committed to advancing safe medical care and putting the safety of patients first.

Jane C.K. Fitch, M.D.,
American Society of Anesthesiologists


Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 52,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.

For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit Join the ANESTHESIOLOGYTM 2014 social conversation today. Like ASA on Facebook, follow ASALifeline on Twitter and use the hashtag #ANES2014.



American Society of Anesthesiologists