Subspecialty News: Society for Ambulatory Anesthesia (SAMBA) Update

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August 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 8
Subspecialty News: Society for Ambulatory Anesthesia (SAMBA) Update Alan P. Marco, M.D., MMM, FACPE, SAMBA President

Here’s a question from the new Self Analysis for Medical Breadwinners in Anesthesiology certification exam:


  1. A free software re-implementation of the SMB/CIFS networking protocol
  2. A Brazilian dance and musical genre
  3. The Susquehanna Area Mountain Bike Association
  4. A vibrant organization dedicated to advancing the practice of ambulatory anesthesia in all venues
  5. All of the above

Not only is the Society for Ambulatory Anesthesia (SAMBA) dedicated to advancing the practice of ambulatory anesthesia, it also is engaged in fostering and encouraging education and research and providing professional guidance for the practice of ambulatory anesthesia. While we have overlap with our colleagues at ASA, we are truly an organization that complements ASA and other subspecialties and brings a unique perspective and focus.

A major thrust of SAMBA’s strategic plan is the SAMBA Clinical Outcomes Registry (SCOR) project. While there are several registry efforts being undertaken across the country, what distinguishes SCOR from the others is its focus on ambulatory anesthesia. Utilizing a structured reporting tool, this database gets information from participants with the goal of generating new insights in patient care as well as benchmarking opportunities for its participants. At the recent SAMBA Annual Meeting, one award-winning abstract looked at the number of anti-emetic therapies needed for optimal postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) management and concluded that we should administer one more therapy than the number of Apfel criteria. This is a fine example of the power of databases such as SCOR to help define “best practices.” SAMBA hopes that participants in SCOR will use their own benchmarked data to demonstrate their value to purchasers and improve their ability to market themselves in the ever-increasingly value-driven health care environment. Improvements in SCOR’s ability to receive data include the rollout of optical character recognition (OCR) forms that will simplify data collection and decrease data entry costs for those who do not have access to electron anesthesia information systems.

Creating and distributing knowledge has been a mainstay of SAMBA’s efforts. That effort includes its traditional and new in-person meetings. As with many specialty societies, we anchor our mid year meeting (October 11, 2013) to the ASA annual meeting; we also offer other opportunities to learn, network and share. Our annual meeting, which was held in Scottsdale last April, was a tremendous source of information. Topics included production pressures, building the ultimate ASC, accessing information in the electronic age, regulatory issues, improving recovery from anesthesia, including pain control, and more. There was a special section for our future colleagues (our residents) that included mock oral exams and panels on career choices, contracts and billing. Plan on attending the 29th annual meeting in Baltimore in April 2014. Not only will it be a great meeting, there are steamed crabs, the Baltimore Orioles and Hopkins lacrosse!

The 2nd Annual SAMBA OBA Conference will be held September 21, 2013 at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel in historic Philadelphia. This conference helps address one of the fastest-growing areas of ambulatory anesthesia/office-based anesthesia practice. While many have questioned the need for a separate organization for ambulatory anesthesia now that more than half of anesthetics are administered in an ambulatory setting, SAMBA helps address the growing need for information and advice about the new practice sites in office settings that are fundamentally different from ASCs, just as ASC practice is fundamentally different from hospital practice. Everything is different in these environments, including support staff, equipment issues, medication storage and administration, back-up plans and fee structures. SAMBA helps provide the resources to be successful in this type of practice (and SCOR can help you benchmark your practices against others). While you are in Philly, you can decide for yourself who makes the best cheesesteaks in town!

As SAMBA looks toward the future, we will focus on increasing value for our membership. While the traditional value proposition from networking and educational offerings will remain, SAMBA will enhance membership value through some innovative ideas. Look for such things as electronically delivered educational/CME offerings for those who can’t come to the in-person meetings and agreements from vendors that will give SAMBA members special opportunities for discounts on products and services. These will help our members put a cash value on the return on their membership investment. Along these lines is the growth in SAMBA affiliations with other organizations, both domestic and international. Expanding these affiliations will help our members with networking opportunities as our meetings attract a wider variety of anesthesia professionals as well as increase the universe of benchmarking opportunities through SCOR. Our international affiliations are growing, improving SAMBA members’ opportunities to attend international meetings. Future meetings will include more of an international flavor as we continue to develop our international professional network and speaker exchange to broaden the viewpoints of all who practice ambulatory anesthesia.

So, what is the answer to the question above? That’s simple: “5, all of the above.” Just as SAMBA means different things to different people, SAMBA serves a diverse group of ambulatory anesthesia professionals who practice in varied settings. Yet they all have a home they can call their own focused on their needs – the Society for Ambulatory Anesthesia.

Alan P. Marco, M.D., MMM, FACPE is Professor and Chair, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Toledo, Ohio.