Professor Helps Launch Surgery Safety Program
Media Contact: Melissa Hounshell, 859-323-6363, x256
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 16, 2008) - University of Kentucky College of Medicine professor of anesthesiology Dr. John H. Eichhorn is playing an integral role as the World Health Organization (WHO) launches its second global patient safety challenge: "Safe Surgery Saves Lives."
This WHO initiative acknowledges that surgery often is not a therapeutic benefit, but rather a public health hazard, for much of the world's population and addresses improving the safety of surgical care everywhere. The new program centers on a safety checklist and has four main sections: Surgical Site Infection Prevention, Safe Anaesthesia, Safe Surgical Teams, and Measurement of Surgical Care and Quality Assurance Mechanisms. Eichhorn, along with four other anesthesiologists - from New Zealand, India, Nigeria, and England - and a biomedical engineer from Massachusetts, created the "Safe Anaesthesia" section of the initiative.
"This WHO safe surgery program has enormous potential to help improve surgical care and outcome in the developing parts of the world though basic ideas and behaviors. At the same time, the concepts are fully applicable and beneficial in the most advanced operating rooms in highly developed countries like the U.S. and thus should be adopted everywhere," Eichhorn said.
At the time of the June launch, the surgical safety checklist was being field tested in real cases in operating rooms in each of the six WHO regions around the world. Surgical settings with varying economic and resource-availability conditions are included in the study.
Eichhorn's main professional interest has been patient safety in anesthesia care since he was a junior faculty member at Harvard in 1983. He has chaired numerous committees that investigate patient safety. After serving as chairman of anesthesiology at the University of Mississippi, Eichhorn came to UK in 2003 where he primarily teaches anesthesiology residents in the OR. He also serves on the board of the UK HealthCare Center for Enterprise Quality and Safety.
The previous WHO first global patient safety challenge: "Clean Care is Safer Care," focusing on 'Hand Hygiene in Health Care' and clean water was launched in October 2005, and has been widely credited with promoting significant advances in the safety of basic health care in the developing world.