Circulation 36,825 • Volume 16, No. 4 • Winter 2001

APSF President Reports on the State of the Foundation

Robert K. Stoelting, MD 

As President of the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF), it is my privilege to report annually on the activities of the APSF during the calendar year. In that regard, I am pleased to report that 2001 has been an active and successful year for the APSF as we strive to fullfill our mission that every patient experience safe anesthetic and perioperative care.

In 2001, the APSF launched a new initiative concerning the role of information systems in patient safety. At the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) held in New Orleans in October 2001, the APSF Executive Committee passed and the APSF Board of Directors unanimously approved the following motion:

“The APSF endorses and advocates the use of automated record keeping in the perioperative period and the subsequent retrieval and analysis of the data to improve patient safety.”

To emphasize the value of real-time, real-data automated record keeping, the APSF Board of Directors Workshop held at the annual 2001 ASA meeting was devoted to a “mock morbidity and mortality conference” moderated by Drs. Jeffrey B. Cooper and David M. Gaba. The participants presented a conventional morbidity and mortality conference based on physiologic data from a handwritten record and compared this information with the “real-time, real-data” derived from an automated record keeping system.

Data Dictionary Task Force

A Data Dictionary Task Force (DDTF) chaired by Terri G. Monk, MD, has been established by the APSF. The mission of the DDTF is to identify a common language of specific perioperative terms and to define the minimum set of data elements necessary for a perioperative information system. Standardization of these data elements will be the first step toward the establishment of a national outcome database dedicated to the identification of the causes and prevention of anesthetic morbidity and mortality. The first phase of the task force will be the development of the minimum data elements of the intraoperative anesthesia record. Collaboration with industry and the ASA is considered by the APSF to be vital in the achievement of the mission of the DDTF.

Newsletter News

Robert C. Morell, MD, assumed responsibilities as the Editor of the APSF Newsletter in 2001. The invaluable contribution of this quarterly publication to anesthesia patient safety is without question. The Spring 2001 Newsletter was devoted to the anesthesia patient safety issues related to production pressures. Consistent with the APSF initiative endorsing automated record keeping, the Summer 2001 Newsletter was devoted to a discussion of automated information systems. In the introduction to this topic, J. S. Gravenstein, MD, observed that “the handwritten intraoperative anesthesia record with its many omissions and inaccuracies will become a relic viewed with amusement by future generations of anesthesiologists.” The Fall 2001 Newsletter reviewed patient safety issues including cardiac arrest during spinal anesthesia.

It is the goal and hope of the APSF that all those involved in delivery of anesthesia care and development of anesthesia equipment and drugs receive the invaluable information contained in the Newsletter. In that regard, I am pleased to welcome the American Academy of Anesthesiolgist Assistants (AAAA) as a Subscribing Society to the APSF. As a Subscribing Society, the members of AAAA will receive the quarterly publication of the APSF Newsletter.

Continued Research Support

Sponsorship of anesthesia patient safety related research has always been a high priority for the APSF. In October 2001, the APSF Committee on Scientific Evaluation, chaired by Sorin Brull, MD, awarded three research applications with funding up to $65,000 for each grant (see story).

The National Patient Safety Foundation (NSPF) has awarded a $5000 grant to the APSF in recognition of the “exhaustive and successful efforts of Ellison C. Pierce, Jr., MD, in improving anesthesia patient safety.” The APSF will use this grant as the initial investment in a capital campaign to develop an endowment for the annual funding of the Ellison C. Pierce, Jr., MD, Research Award for investigations directed toward improving anesthesia patient safety (see story on E.C. Pierce Research Award). Drs. E. S. Siker and James F. Arens are co-chairs of the capital campaign committee, which initiated its requests for contributions in December 2001.

Contributions from individuals, corporations, and national and state societies are vital for the APSF to continue and advance its patient safety mission. The generous financial support from our Founding Sponsor, the ASA, is critical for the continued ability of the APSF to provide education, research, and information related to anesthesia patient safety to everyone. All donors and their level of support are recognized in the APSF Newsletter. Your support is greatly appreciated. I believe you can be proud of the results of your continued support.

As in the last annual report, I wish to again reiterate the desire of the APSF Executive Committee to provide a broad-based consensus on anesthesia patient safety issues. We welcome comments and suggestions from all those who participate in the common goal of making anesthesia a safe medical experience. There is still much to accomplish and everyone’s participation is important, welcome, and needed. Best wishes for a prosperous and rewarding year 2002.

Robert K. Stoelting, MD
Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation