Features  |   October 2015
Leadership: In and Outside of the O.R. – Discovering the ‘Why’ of Anesthesia
Author Affiliations
  • Susan Curling, M.D., M.B.A.
    Committee on Communications
Article Information
Education / CPD / Features
Features   |   October 2015
Leadership: In and Outside of the O.R. – Discovering the ‘Why’ of Anesthesia
ASA Monitor 10 2015, Vol.79, 18-19.
ASA Monitor 10 2015, Vol.79, 18-19.
The core goal of leadership is to develop an inspired culture that changes a job into a calling. Several physician anesthesiologists have been instrumental in accomplishing this goal. In a TED Talk, Simon Sinek (www.youtube.com/watch?v=sioZd3AxmnE) refers to starting with “why.” Why do we train extended years, work long hours and sacrifice family and friends? We do it because we are privileged to keep patients safe, alive and pain-free. I say safe before pain-free because we are known as the medical specialty that pioneered safety, beginning with the leadership of Dr. Ellison “Jeep” Pierce, Jr., M.D.
At a time when the safety of anesthesia and surgery came under public attack, Dr. Pierce had the option as an ASA leader to fight for tort reform and decrease malpractice insurance costs or make anesthesia safer. The ABC network aired a “20/20” episode in April 1982 called, “The Deep Sleep: 6,000 Will Die or Suffer Brain Damage.” Going back to the “why” of what we profess in our profession, Dr. Pierce decided to improve safety. He created an ASA standing committee on safety and risk management, which led to the formation of the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF). With his leadership, we were to be dubbed the safety innovators of medicine. The vision of the APSF, led by Robert Stoelting, M.D., for many years, “that no patient be harmed by anesthesia,” was to become the battle cry of the quality and patient safety leaders of today. Nobody on earth thought of ZERO HARM1  or organized around patient safety prior to the 1980s.
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