Circulation 122,210 • Volume 33, No. 2 • October 2018   Issue PDF

APSF Highlights 12 Perioperative Patient Safety Priorities for 2018

Meghan Lane-Fall, MD, MSHP

In February 2018, the APSF Board of Directors voted on a series of perioperative patient safety topics to focus the Foundation’s attention on developing priorities for research, education, and practice innovations. This list follows a tradition dating back to 1999, the first time that the APSF published patient safety priorities.1 The priority list was derived from multiple sources, including the published literature and submissions to and correspondence from readers of the APSF Newsletter. The multidisciplinary APSF Board, which includes anesthesiologists, certified registered nurse anesthetists, surgeons, nurses, industry representatives, pharmacists, risk managers, and hospital administrators, decided upon this series of priorities after real-time head-to-head voting took place on pairs of safety topics. These topics were derived from a poll sent to the board members prior to the February meeting by Dr. Warner, the APSF president. Some of the topics, such as airway management (#8) and medication safety (#4) are familiar, while others like the culture of safety (#3) and communication concerns (#7) reflect our evolving understanding of the complexity involved in creating safe conditions. We hope this list generates conversation, critical evaluation of clinical practice, performance improvement initiatives, and patient safety research.

Table 1. APSF Perioperative Patient Safety Priorities*

1. Preventing, detecting, and mitigating clinical deterioration in the perioperative period
2. Safety in non-operating room locations
3. Culture of safety
4. Medication safety
5. Perioperative delirium, cognitive dysfunction, and brain health
6. Hospital-acquired infections and environmental microbial contamination and transmission
7. Patient-related communication issues, handoffs, and transitions of care
8. Airway management difficulties, skills, and equipment
9. Cost-effective protocols and monitoring that have a positive impact on safety
10. Integration of safety into process implementation and continuous improvement
11. Burnout
12. Distractions in procedural areas
*Published on the APSF website:


Dr. Lane-Fall is assistant professor of anesthesiology and critical care at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the APSF Board of Directors and is assistant editor of the APSF Newsletter.

She has no conflicts of interest related to the content of this article.


  1. Stoelting R. APSF survey results identify safety issues priorities. APSF Newsletter 1999;14:6–7. Accessed on August 18, 2018.