Lifelong learning is a cornerstone of professionalism. As physicians, we wish to adopt new procedures and techniques to continuously improve patient care. Over the past decades, physician anesthesiologists have led research and education initiatives that have reduced serious adverse outcomes to approximately 250 per million anesthetics. Consequently, we are the acknowledged leaders in promoting patient safety and positive outcomes. While we can and should learn from individual adverse events, we should also learn from patterns in daily performance – the aggregation of all that we do. This kind of learning requires measurement.

One example of the power of accumulated events was our understanding of the catastrophic adverse event of blindness after general anesthesia. In the 1990s, most large practices had experienced a single case in recent memory – usually chalked off to unusual patient disease or bad luck. It...

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