The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) today presented Jeffrey B. Cooper, Ph.D., with its 2012 Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his contributions to dramatically advance the safety of anesthesia. The award is the highest honor ASA bestows and is presented annually to a member who has transformed the specialty of anesthesiology.
Dr. Cooper, a biomedical engineer, is a professor of anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Mass., and has been faculty in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, since 1972. He is one of seven founding members of the Executive Committee of the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF) and continues to serve on that committee and as executive vice president.
“On behalf of ASA, I thank Dr. Cooper for his tireless dedication to improve quality of care and patient safety,” said ASA President John M. Zerwas, M.D. “Dr. Cooper’s critical contributions to the development of Harvard’s ‘standards for patient monitoring during anesthesia’ help set the groundwork for the development of ASA’s own standards and guidelines. As the first non-physician recipient of the award, Dr. Cooper has a unique perspective on clinical practice.”
Known for introducing human factors analysis to anesthesiology in the mid-to-late 1970s, Dr. Cooper studied the relationship between critical incidents and human error to mortality and morbidity. One of his extensions of that work was a checklist for anesthesia machines, later adapted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in collaboration with ASA and others. Dr. Cooper also established the APSF’s research program, which in its early years funded the development of simulation and crisis resource management.
In the mid-1970s, Dr. Cooper led a team that developed the world’s first microprocessor-based anesthesia delivery system, the “Boston Anesthesia System.” The device illustrated the concept of an integrated anesthesia “system,” warning of potentially dangerous conditions, improving the display of information and incorporating other safety innovations. Dr. Cooper’s group made the details of the technology available freely to manufacturers, who adopted many of its concepts into their equipment, ensuring that patients would benefit for decades to come.
In 1994, based on his exposure to that early research, he founded the Center for Medical Simulation (CMS). At its inception, CMS was a collaboration of the anesthesia departments affiliated with Harvard Medical School. CMS is now one of the world’s leading simulation centers, dedicated to improving patient safety and health care education and training.
When the American Medical Association (AMA) founded the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) in 1997, it was motivated by the work of APSF. Dr. Cooper serves on the NPSF Board of Governors, ensuring that lessons learned in anesthesia safety are applied more widely to medicine.
Dr. Cooper received the 2003 John M. Eisenberg Award for Lifetime Achievement in Patient Safety from the National Quality Forum and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, and the 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Clinical Engineering.