It began like any other day – a schedule full of routine cases at McFarland Clinic – physician anesthesiologist Dr. Patrick Allaire had just administered an epidural to his patient preparing to deliver her baby girl. A nervous, yet excited young mother was about to experience one of the most amazing moments in her life. As a mother, I recall those same emotions as I was preparing to deliver my son more than four years ago. What was anticipated to be a seamlessly joyous occasion for his patient, quickly took a terrible and unexpected turn. The young woman experienced cardiac arrest due to an amniotic embolism. Dr. Allaire immediately placed a breathing tube, administered medication to restart her heart and instructed the team to begin chest compressions. An emergency cesarean section was performed. Following the surgery, Dr. Allaire cared for his patient throughout the remaining day and night.Because of his broad medical knowledge and extensive specialty training, he was able to quickly assess and diagnose the medical emergency and make critical, split-second decisions. Despite an 85 percent fatality rate during such procedures, both the mother and child survived.
Physician anesthesiologists have worked for decades with great success to make anesthesia care safe. Mortality rates have fallen dramatically; giving the appearance that administration of anesthesia is relatively simple. But we all know that every surgery carries risks and even routine procedures can suddenly require a life-saving intervention.
You live this issue every day. There is no question that you are anesthesiology’s best and strongest advocate. Each of you has at least one story similar to that of Dr. Allaire’s. It’s time for us to work together, in concert to ensure legislators, the people who influence medical policy, hospital and system administrators, media and the public hear these stories and understand the essential roles physician anesthesiologists play before, during and after surgery, to deliver the highest-quality of and safest medical care all patients deserve.
ASA is working daily on behalf of each of our members to prevent and defeat legislation that dilutes patient-centered, physician-led care. ASA retained a respected research firm to better understand what people know about us, about the specialty of anesthesiology and, in general terms, how they feel about the role physicians play in their care.
You may not be surprised to know that the majority of the public is unaware that an anesthesiologist is a physician, but the research found that many policymakers – legislators and regulators – are not aware of this. Together, we can change this misperception by properly educating these stakeholders with factual data, coupled with life-saving stories. We need your help – we need your voice, influence and action.
Join us in our new educational endeavor, When Seconds Count ... Physician Anesthesiologists Save Lives™ to increase awareness about the critical role physician anesthesiologists play and help change how people view your role and the vital contributions made by the specialty. As part of this endeavor, we’ve captured stories of physician anesthesiologists who made critical medical decisions when an emergency or complication occurred with a surgery or procedure.
These stories are captured in video and are just one of the resources that can found on the When Seconds Count™ microsite at asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount. The microsite provides detailed information for policymakers, the public and media, as well as an important section just for ASA members, our specialty’s strongest advocate.
This endeavor will only be successful if we have our member’s support. So that we are working together in a united effort, we developed an Advocacy Toolkit of resources available for download at asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount. The toolkit includes fact-based resources including a “Message Map” to help you communicate our key endeavor messages, along with fact sheets highlighting education, training and cost of care, as well as a brochure to help educate your local elected representatives and hospital administrators. There is also a document that provides answers to questions that policymakers might ask.
We want to hear your personal stories of when your education and training prepared you to make those critical decisions that save lives, or stories of routine procedures that could have had very bad outcomes had it not been for your intervention. Submit your story at WhenSecondsCount@asahq.org. Telling your stories is one of the most important ways in which you can contribute to this endeavor.
You can also:
• Talk with your hospital administrators. Don’t expect that they know the facts as our research shows that they don’t.
• Talk with the surgeons and referring physicians with whom you work. Enlist their help. Ask them to share their first-hand stories of the importance of the important role you play.
• Talk to your family and friends. Word-of-mouth is a powerful communications tool and you are the best person to bring information to others.
When a routine surgical procedure goes bad or an emergency arises, patients can rely on physician anesthesiologists to evaluate, diagnose and intervene, providing patients with optimal care and saving lives. We know that, but now we need to make sure legislators, policy influencers, hospital administrators, media and the public know it as well.
Join us. Take action. Protect patients. We can’t do it without you.
Questions? Please contact ASA Director of Public Relations Roxanne Pipitone, at email@example.com or (847) 268-9128.