Back in 1986, the Health Care Financing Administration launched the brave new era of quality reporting in this country by releasing "report cards" that detailed hospital-specific, risk-adjusted mortality rates for coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. Since that time, the number and type of publicly reported quality outcomes has grown exponentially with the goal of helping patients make informed decisions when selecting doctors, thereby driving quality improvement by doctors and hospitals. Has ...

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Is nerve block anesthesia better for surgery?A guest column by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, exclusive to KevinMD.com. More needles ... who wants that? You probably do! Nerve block anesthesia, also called regional anesthesia, requires localized numbing and additional needle sticks, but it has many advantages. Primarily, it can have a profound effect on your pain after surgery, and improve your rehabilitation and decrease ...

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One of the most exciting things about working in patient safety and health care quality is that it’s not solely about advancing science or applying performance improvement methods. It is also about the excitement of being part of a social movement that is changing the culture of medicine -- putting patients at the center of everything, sharing errors in the hopes of preventing future ones, and confronting hierarchies that stifle ...

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Recently, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine called into question the effectiveness of surgical checklists for preventing harm. Atul Gawande, one of the original researchers demonstrating the effectiveness of such checklists and author of a book on the subject, quickly wrote a rebuttal on the Incidental Economist. He writes, “I wish the Ontario study were better,” and I join him in that assessment, but want to take it a step further. Gawande first criticizes ...

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A respiratory physician who I worked for had an uncanny ability of predicting the diagnoses the admitting junior doctor would fail to consider in patients presenting acutely with difficulty in breathing. He was using a checklist, which he developed after years of observing his housestaff. As a surgical intern I was once praised for my presence of mind in cross matching blood for a patient with a rare blood group who ...

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I recently spoke to a quality measures development organization and it got me thinking -- what makes a good doctor, and how do we measure it? In thinking about this, I reflected on how far we have come on quality measurement.  A decade or so ago, many physicians didn’t think the quality of their care could be measured and any attempt to do so was “bean counting” folly at best or ...

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Imagine -- where would elective surgery be today if patients still worried about operating rooms exploding or developing liver and kidney failure from anesthesia? Having major surgery would be a very different experience without anesthesia.  Before the advent of safe anesthesia techniques, the world of surgery was basically limited to amputations and other attempts at life-saving maneuvers.  Dr. Bigelow's publication describing the safe administration of ether changed everything, and the New ...

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In my core, I always loved doing surgery, and being surgeon to my patients. As I hope I've made clear in my blog, I was always amazed that I was allowed to do it, and awed at the mysterious beauty of it all. As much of a responsibility as it is, it's also an inexplicably wondrous honor and privilege. Those words aren't lightly written. But in a diabolical ...

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Aviation and anesthesiology: The importance of trainingA guest column by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, exclusive to KevinMD.com. Comparisons between the airline industry and anesthesia care are common.  One of the most commonly heard analogies is that the takeoff and landing of a jetliner are similar to induction and emergence during a general anesthetic.  But there are other equally important analogies between the two ...

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On Twitter a while ago, a medical student asked me how surgical program directors select new residents. Then a discussion arose among some academic surgeons on the same topic. Someone suggested that medical school grades were the best way to tell whether an applicant would be a successful resident. The fact is that we aren't really sure what the best way to choose residents is. First, here's what we really do. A 2011 
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