Editorial  |   May 2013
At the Forefront of Patient Safety
Author Affiliations
  • N. Martin Giesecke, M.D
Article Information
Patient Safety / Editorial
Editorial   |   May 2013
At the Forefront of Patient Safety
ASA Monitor 05 2013, Vol.77, 4-5.
ASA Monitor 05 2013, Vol.77, 4-5.
Anesthesiologists have been in the forefront of matters of patient safety for more than 60 years. Most of us are familiar with the monitoring advances that occurred in the 1980s, especially pulse oximetry and capnography, all of which played an important part in improving the safety of anesthetic care. In the mid-1980s, ASA initiated the Closed Claims Study, a scientific review of anesthesia-related medical liability claims that has taught us much about adverse anesthetic outcomes. Looking at the causes of these unexpected results has enabled us to implement prevention measures. About this same time, anesthesiologists at Harvard formed a committee to review the etiology of anesthetic accidents at that institution. The Harvard committee came up with the first standards for minimal intraoperative monitoring. These standards were revised and adopted by ASA in October 1986 as the society’s first practice standard, STANDARDS FOR BASIC ANESTHETIC MONITORING. Anesthesia machine developments occurred that helped prevent human error – nonadjustable minimal oxygen/nitrous oxide ratios, low airway pressure alarms, rising ventilator bellows, etc. And the FDA anesthesia machine checkout list was adopted.
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