Volume 11, No. 3 • Fall 1996

ASA Meeting Features Patient Safety Again

John H. Eichhorn, M.D.

Patient safety persists as a significant theme of the American Society of Anesthesiologists Annual Meeting, this year to be held in New Orleans, October 19-23. Last year’s meeting will be a tough act to follow in this context because in 1995, the topics of both the Rovenstine Memorial Lecture and the Wright Memorial Lecture specifically addressed patient safety. However, this year, several refresher courses and scientific sessions will address patient safety-related topics.

Safety-related scientific presentations are grouped in sessions at the meeting combined with the areas of practice management, history, and education. The resulting category constitutes the largest single type of scientific session at this meeting with 147 papers to be presented in nine sessions.

Get Refreshed

Especially relevant Refresher Courses this year include one (#114) to be presented Saturday, October 19, by Dr. Fred Cheney entitled “The ASA Closed Claims Project: Lessons Learned.” The following hour in the next room (#125), Dr. Robert Caplan, also heavily involved in the Closed Claims Study, will present “Adverse Outcomes in Anesthesia Practice.” Even with a clear medical-legal slant, the presentation (#162) “Avoiding Obstetric Anesthesia Lawsuits: Relevant Guidelines and Standards” by Dr. Gershon Levinson has obvious patient safety implications.

Several other Refresher Courses on topics from the various areas of practice will contain elements directly related to patient safety. Dr. Mark Warner (#113) will speak on “Cost-Containment in Anesthesia, Is It Worth the Effort?” On Sunday, October 20, Dr. Jonathan Benumof will cover “The ASA Difficult Airway Algorithm: New Thoughts/Considerations” and Dr. Michael Good will speak on “Capnography-Principles and Practice.” Dr. David Chestnut will present a discussion of “Anesthesia for the High Risk Obstetric Patient” and Dr. James Eisenkraft will lecture on “Complications of Anesthesia Delivery Systems.”

147 Papers Scheduled

In the Monday morning sessions, Dr. M. Jaberi will present in the poster-discussion format his work involving incident monitoring during trauma care accomplished by videotaping the clinical events and reviewing them later. Dr. Yan Xiao, from the same institution, will have a poster of his study of the stress on the provider during airway (elective and emergency) management and how it might influence care.

Monday afternoon, Dr. P. Schafer will have a poster entitled “The electronic esophageal detector device for detection of tracheal or esophageal intubation: does it work?” Other areas to be touched that afternoon involve latex allergy, eye complications, tissue damage from IV infiltration, avoiding hypothermia, pulmonary emboli during orthopedic surgery, and ulnar neuropathy. In another session at the same time, Dr. E. McCoy will present “Endobronchial intubation: an analysis of 4000 incident reports.” Likewise, Dr. J. Rosenberg will discuss cardiac arrest and death in the OR among 69,083 anesthetics.

In the Tuesday afternoon sessions, the impact of fatigue on anesthesia performance will be addressed in two oral presentations: Dr. R. Geer will discuss the effects of an on-call cycle on psychomotor vigilance performance in both faculty and resident anesthesiologists; Dr. M. Weinger will present “Performance may be impaired in on-call residents doing nighttime cases.” In a poster-discussion session, deaths and anesthetic difficulties in trauma patients will be reviewed by Dr. J. Duke. Further at the same time is a poster session featuring several presentations concerning the efficacy and safety of blood salvage, hemodilution, and transfusion therapy; two posters revisit the issue of carbon monoxide production during inhalation anesthetics. One poster considers factors associated with cognitive dysfunction after CABG surgery.

In a Wednesday morning session, Dr. K. Rose will give an oral presentation titled “Are anesthetic drug costs related to patient outcome?” The risk factors associated with preoperative fasting intervals will be discussed in a paper by Dr. T. Marks-Strauss. Finally, Dr. A. Kulier will present “Increase in degradation products of sevoflurane results from partially dried baralyme.”

Even after last year’s landmark emphasis on patient safety through the plenary lectures at the ASA Annual Meeting, this year’s multiplicity of sessions promise to be piercingly relevant and singularly engaging. In addition, all those attending the ASA meeting are urged to visit and view the APSF booth in the exhibit hall, which will be open Sunday afternoon 12:00-5:00 and all day both Monday and Tuesday, 9:00-4:00.

Dr. Eichhorn, Professor and Chairman of Anesthesiology at the University of Mississippi, is Editor of the APSF Newsletter.