American Society of Anesthesiologists honors Norman A. Cohen, M.D., with its Distinguished Service Award - American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA)

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American Society of Anesthesiologists honors Norman A. Cohen, M.D., with its Distinguished Service Award

BOSTON – The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) today presented Norman A. Cohen, M.D., of Portland, Ore., with its 2017 Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his exceptional contributions to the patient care and educational missions of ASA. The award is the highest honor ASA bestows and is presented annually to a member who has transformed the specialty of anesthesiology.  

Dr. Cohen is a professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine and medical director for clinical documentation and coding improvement at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. 

“I would like to thank Dr. Cohen for his tireless advocacy of local and national policies affecting physician anesthesiologists,” said ASA President Jeffrey Plagenhoef, M.D. “His efforts and passion have been monumental to transforming practice and payment models for our specialty.”

While taking part in advocacy efforts on behalf of the Society, Dr. Cohen frequently positioned himself as a leader with legislators, regulators and the press on a myriad of policy issues. His efforts have favorably impacted policy development. Notably, his engagement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Congress led to improved physician payments to medical centers across the country. 

Dr. Cohen’s unique ability to understand and translate economics in an unprecedented way, has led lay people and medical professionals alike to better understand and endorse appropriate payment for physician anesthesiologists. Within the American Medical Association’s (AMA) RVS Update Committee (RUC), his work as chair of the Evaluation and Management Review Committee resulted in more accurate payment for evaluation and management services and impacted medicine as a whole. Separately, Dr. Cohen helped convince the RUC and CMS that anesthesia services were undervalued by Medicare, resulting in a significant increase in the CMS conversion factor that’s used for payment of anesthesia services.

Dr. Cohen has held several leadership positions at ASA, culminating with his role as vice president for professional affairs. He has served as chair of the Committee on Economics, Committee on Future Models of Anesthesia Practice, and Section on Professional Practice as well as several ad hoc committees. 

His service to other professional medical societies has been extensive, including positions within the AMA, American Hospital Association, Oregon Medical Association and Oregon Society of Anesthesiologists. 

In 2010, Dr. Cohen was bestowed with both the Betram W. Coffer Award for Excellence in Government from ASA and “Outstanding Ten & One Clinical Teaching Award” from the residents of the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, for excellence in clinical teaching in the operating room.

Dr. Cohen received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and completed his residency in anesthesiology, with a focus on cardiac and vascular anesthesia, at Duke University in Durham, N.C. 

The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor ASA bestows. It is presented annually for outstanding clinical, educational or scientific achievement, contribution to the specialty and/or exemplary service to the Society. ASA House of Delegates establishes policies governing the selection of a recipient for the Distinguished Service Award.

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 ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2017 social conversation today. Like ASA on Facebook, follow ASALifeline on Twitter and use the hashtag #ANES17.

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