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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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October 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 10
Time To Focus On Quality Time For A New Meeting Arnold J. Berry, M.D., M.P.H.
Vice President for Scientific Affairs

Beverly K. Philip, M.D., Chair
Committee on Quality Management and Departmental Administration

Diane Gambill, Ph.D.
ASA Chief Learning Officer

Although the publication of the Institute of Medicine’s 1999 report, To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System, is seen by many as the beginning of the modern patient safety movement, the specialty of anesthesiology had already been actively working to improve the quality of anesthetic care. The Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation was founded in 1985, and in October 1986, the ASA House of Delegates approved the “Standards for Basic Anesthesia Monitoring” that continues to serve as the foundation for safe anesthesia practice.


As we fast forward to today, “quality” and “safety” have become the buzzwords for the future of health care. Better outcomes from improved quality of care are seen as a way to control the rising costs associated with health care in the United States. Patients, payers, accrediting organizations, and the government are demanding quality and asking for metrics to document performance and outcomes. This focus on improving the quality of care that physicians provide is consistent with ASA’s proposed future model of practice, the Perioperative Surgical Home model of care. In this rapidly changing health care environment, ASA must provide members with the resources they need to implement quality improvement activities in their practices. The Anesthesia Quality Institute, with its National Anesthesia Clinical Outcomes Registry, was established to serve as a repository for data from clinical practices. It will permit analyses of outcomes at the practice or provider level as well as comparisons to national benchmarks. ASA has also developed a large portfolio of education activities that members will find useful for learning about patient safety and improving quality. These were developed from many ASA committees with input from experts in diverse clinical and practice management areas. Information about all of ASA’s education products can be accessed from the online Education Center at But an environmental survey of the education programs of other medical specialty organizations indicates that, compared to similar societies, ASA currently has significantly fewer live meetings (annual meeting, Conference on Practice Management, iTEE Workshop and Legislative Conference). Based on the recommendation of the ASA Department of Education, we have developed a new meeting, the ASA Quality Meeting: Creating and Measuring Quality in AnesthesiologyTM, devoted to quality improvement and are partnering with the Illinois Society of Anesthesiologists to hold the meeting onNovember 9 and 10, 2013, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois. Beverly K. Philip, M.D. chaired a task force to plan the content for the meeting with the target audience being anesthesiologists interested in implementing or developing quality-improvement activities in their practices. Attendance at the one and one-half day meeting (11.5 CME credits) was limited to 150 since there will be small-group discussions to assist attendees to begin to formulate quality improvement initiatives for their own practice. The meeting quickly sold out, and we’re looking forward to sharing attendee feedback with you in future NEWSLETTERs. Information about the meeting can be found on the ASA Education Center webpage at We look forward to seeing you at future Quality Meeting events.

Arnold J. Berry, M.D., M.P.H. is Professor of Anesthesiology, Director, Office of Continuing Medical Education, and Assistant Dean for Education, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta.

Beverly K. Philip, M.D. is Professor of Anaesthesia, Harvard Medical School, Founding Director, Day Surgery Unit, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.

Diane Gambill, Ph.D. is ASA Chief Learning Officer.

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