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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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July 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 7
ASA/APSF Ellison C. Pierce, Jr., Patient Safety Memorial Lecture ‘Toward Patient Safety in Anesthesia – Let the Journey Continue’ Robert K. Stoelting, M.D., President Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation

The ASA/APSF Ellison C. Pierce, Jr., Patient Safety Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Alan F. Merry, M.B., Ch.B., FANZCA, FRCA, an internationally renowned anesthesia patient safety advocate and investigator. Dr. Merry has chosen the topic “Toward Patient Safety in Anesthesia – Let the Journey Continue” for his lecture.

This annual honorary lecture was established by the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF) and ASA to recognize and sustain the memory of the founding president of APSF and past president of ASA (1984), Ellison C. (Jeep) Pierce, Jr., M.D. It was Dr. Pierce’s vision and unwavering commitment to anesthesia patient safety that led to the formation of APSF in 1985 as the first medical specialty foundation devoted solely to addressing patient safety. Today, the medical specialty of anesthesiology, ASA and APSF are recognized as pioneers in advocating patient safety as APSF strives to achieve its vision that “no patient shall be harmed by anesthesia.”

APSF is the largest private funding source for anesthesia patient safety research, having provided more than $8.3 million for 101 grants since the inception of the APSF award program in 1987. A byproduct of the APSF research award program is the development of a cadre of anesthesia safety scientists who can trace their early investigative careers to seed money provided by APSF. The Foundation was an early supporter of research directed toward the value of simulation in anesthesia patient safety. The APSF Newsletter, with a circulation of 107,515 recipients, provides rapid and international dissemination of current and evolving anesthesia patient safety information.

Dr. Merry was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and is a citizen of both New Zealand and Ireland. He received his M.B., Ch.B. from Godfrey Huggins School of Medicine (Zimbabwe) and later served as an Anaesthetic Registrar in Auckland, New Zealand, and the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, Scotland. He is a Fellow of the Faculty of Anaesthetists, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FFARACS), a Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (FANZCA) and a Fellow of the Faculty of Pain Medicine, Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (FFPMANZCA). He also holds an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Anaesthetists (FRCA). Dr. Merry is currently Head of the School of Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand. He practices anesthesia and chronic pain management at Auckland City Hospital. His research interests include the quality and safety of health care with a heavy emphasis on human factors and simulation and the management of acute and chronic pain. He was instrumental in establishing the Simulation Centre for Patient Safety at the University of Auckland. This center has become renowned for the uses of simulation in postgraduate training and research in human factors and teamwork in the operating room and acute care situations.

Dr. Merry has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and is the co-author of three books, including one titled Safety and Ethics in Healthcare. He serves as chair of the Health Quality and Safety Commission and is a Councilor of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anesthetists. He is a member of the executive committee of the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists and a director of Safer Sleep, an entity that promotes safety solutions in anesthesia. Dr. Merry is a director of Lifebox, which was recently established to provide pulse oximetry and education to low-income areas of the world.

Recently, Dr. Merry was a guest editor for a themed edition of the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia on “Innovations in Perioperative Quality and Patient Safety.” He also led the Safe Anaesthesia Group of the World Health Organization’s Safe Surgery Saves Lives initiative.

Alan F. Merry and his acclaimed international contributions to advocating for anesthesia patient safety make him an outstanding selection to deliver the 2013 ASA/APSF Ellison C. Pierce, Jr., Patient Safety memorial lecture in honor of “Jeep” Pierce. His topic, ‘Toward Patient Safety in Anesthesia – Let the Journey Continue,’ is a fitting tribute to the memory and contributions of APSF’s founding president and past ASA president Ellison C. (Jeep) Pierce, Jr., M.D.

Robert K. Stoelting, M.D. is President, Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation.

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