Let’s imagine the world of obstetric anesthesiology in 1948. Neonatal and maternal mortality were incredibly high in comparison to today’s standards. Anesthesia-related events accounted for 30 percent of mortality. Furthermore, only 24 percent of hospitals offered 24-hour anesthesiology service. The field of obstetric anesthesiology was in its infancy. Although epidural anesthesia was introduced in this era for laboring patients, it was rarely used for this reason.

Recognizing the need for improvements in safety and advocacy, several physicians from different medical subspecialties convened to establish a society dedicated to obstetric anesthesiology and improving maternal safety. James Elam M.D., father of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, along with Otto Phillips M.D., chair of the ASA Committee on Maternal Welfare (later renamed the “Obstetric Anesthesia Committee”), agreed on plans to create an organization dedicated to this very cause. The first meeting, held on...

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