As a physician anesthesiologist, each of us should be well aware of the part our profession has played in the development of patient safety. In its report To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System, published in 2000, The Institute of Medicine points out that “Anesthesiology has successfully reduced anesthesia mortality rates from two deaths per 10,000 anesthetics administered to one death per 200,000 – 300,000 anesthetics administered.” The report goes on to delineate how this improvement in patient safety was accomplished: technological adaptation; adoption of information-based strategies, like guidelines and standards; applying human factors (i.e., simulation training); formation of the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation; and having a leader who could serve as a champion of the cause. To my reading of the report, no other single specialty of medicine was highlighted to the same...

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