Quality Improvement and Patient Safety

Anesthesia has been a leader and pioneer in patient safety and improvement of healthcare quality for decades. Several technological and pharmaceutical advances have made the practice of anesthesiology much safer for patients than it was in 1846, when W.T.G. Morton performed the first public demonstration of anesthesia. In fact, when compared to the 1950s, there has been a 100-fold decrease in the mortality rate attributed to anesthesia. As a result of this improvement, anesthesiology is often cited as the only medical specialty to have reached the Six Sigma defect rate.

At Children’s Hospital Colorado, the Section of Pediatric Anesthesiology strives to make the delivery of pediatric anesthesia even safer than it is today. In addition to participating in numerous quality improvement projects ongoing at any given time within the perioperative environment, several members of our anesthesia team are highly involved with safety and quality committees within the hospital, organization, and the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia. In order to identify systems issues that may detract from the quality of anesthesia care provided at our hospital, monthly reviews are conducted of all anesthesia cases submitted through our Quality and Safety Review System (QSRS). Additionally, Children’s Hospital Colorado is a participating institution with Wake Up Safe, a Quality Improvement Initiative containing a registry of adverse events occurring during pediatric anesthetics.

Children’s Hospital Colorado is also committed to quality education for our pediatric anesthesiology fellows. Our fellows receive several lectures on quality improvement and patient safety, as well as hands-on sessions and online modules to practice and hone learned techniques. Furthermore, as a prerequisite for graduation, fellows are required to participate in a quality improvement project to get “real world” experience of implementing and measuring process change. These measures ensure the next generation of pediatric anesthesiologists trained at Children’s Hospital Colorado finish training with the skill set necessary to be a leader in quality improvement at their future institutions.