Chicago – November 14, 2014 –American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) President J.P. Abenstein, M.D. released the following statement:
“First and foremost, the death of a patient is always a tragic event, and our hearts continue to be with the family of Ms. Joan Rivers.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a 22-page report this week regarding the tragic death of Ms. Rivers. The report stated ‘Based on the review of medical records, documents, policies and procedures and interviews, it was determined that the facility failed to ensure that patient care services are provided in a manner that protects the health and safety of all patients.’
Each of the more than 100 million operations and procedures performed on Americans every year involves the administration of anesthesia. The goal of every member of ASA is to give each patient the highest quality and safest care possible. While our goal is to reduce the risk of surgery and anesthesia to zero, we are not there yet.
Anesthesiology was the first medical specialty to champion patient safety as a specific focus. Through research and the development of new procedures, physician anesthesiologists have advanced the field, leading to a dramatic decrease in anesthesia-related deaths over the past 25 years, from two deaths per 10,000 anesthetics administered to fewer than two deaths per 400,000 anesthetics. Regarding the safety of ambulatory surgery centers (ASC), a study from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration notes the number of deaths at ASCs to be less than one per 100,000 procedures.
Additionally, this past October, ASA’s Anesthesia Quality Institute (AQI) National Anesthesia Clinical Outcomes Registry (NACOR) of more than 3.2 million anesthesia cases reported data showing that anesthesia complications decreased by more than half in the past four years. The percentage of adverse events related to anesthesia decreased from 11.8 percent to 4.8 percent of procedures during that time period.
While anesthesia is safer than ever before, every person scheduled to have a procedure or surgery must have a serious conversation with their physician anesthesiologist about their anesthesia care delivery plan ahead of time. Check the qualifications of all the physicians involved in the procedure, as well as the licensure and accreditation of the ambulatory surgery center.
Advancing patient safety and improving the quality of care delivered to our patients is the foundation of ASA’s principles. ASA exists to serve the needs of our patients, to provide our members the tools and knowledge to deliver the highest quality and safest medical care, and to one day reduce the risk of surgery and anesthesia to zero.”