Approximately 250 anesthesiologists from California and across the U.S. found their way to San Jose this weekend, as they gathered for the CSA's Annual Meeting. Dr. Kenneth Pauker took the helm as President, succeeding Dr. Narendra Trivedi, and the new President-elect who will take office in 2012 is Dr. Johnathan Pregler.
In his address to the House of Delegates, outgoing President Trivedi spoke about the "Opt-Out," Governor Schwarzenegger's letter to the CMS that exempted California from the Medicare requirement that nurse anesthetists be supervised by physicians. Though our initial motion against his action was denied, the CSA is appealing that decision, with the support of the ASA, AMA, and CMA.
Dr. Pauker, in his inaugural address as President, urged CSA members to action. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), he said, has provisions that "may well destroy anesthesiology as we know it." The nondiscrimination clause in the PPACA, which bars insurers from discriminating among categories of practitioners who render equivalent service, "introduces a federal civil rights issue into what is properly an issue of scope of practice," Dr. Pauker said. Advocacy must be a cornerstone of advancing the CSA's agenda, and he wants to develop "an army of writers" within the CSA to communicate our message to the public.
One major change announced for next year is that the educational portion of the annual meeting will be separated from the governance activities including the meeting of the House of Delegates. The problem up to now has been that meetings of the House of Delegates and Reference Committee overlapped with the educational and workshop components of the meeting, and prevented interested CSA members from participating in both.
Now, the 2012 spring educational meeting will be expanded similar to the Hawaii meetings, and will be held April 19-22 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Laguna Niguel for its spectacular location and recreational opportunities. The 2012 House of Delegates meeting will take place over the weekend of May 12-13, and will include a session developed by the Legislative and Practice Affairs Division (LPAD) to give delegates a thorough update in advocacy efforts and legislative issues. For the first time in 2012, delegates and alternate delegates will be reimbursed for one night's hotel stay.
Dr. Steven Barker, this year's Forrest E. Leffingwell Memorial Lecturer, captivated the audience with his talk, "Flying the Anesthesia Machine: Why a Caveman Can't Do It." Dr. Barker's Ph.D. is in aeronautical engineering, and he flies his own single-engine plane. He advocates checklists because people are human and "we forget stuff." On the other hand, he said, the purpose of the checklist is not to stop you from creative thinking. After you've gone through the checklist twice, Dr. Barker advised, if you're still in trouble, improvise and "try something else! Don't just fly the plane into the ground!" He advocates a return to analog gauges rather than digital displays because they are easier for the human eye to interpret, increased use of simulators in training, and better alarm systems in anesthesia equipment. In Dr. Barker's opinion, anesthesia practice has a lot in common with air combat, and would benefit from the same systematic approach to decision making.
Dr. Paul Yost, Chair of the LPAD, acquainted the House of Delegates with the CSA website's new "CSA Grassroots Network," which will enable members to stay informed about legislative issues and contact their legislators easily. Dr. Linda Hertzberg, past President and Editor of Electronic Media, is working on a new "blog" feature for the website which will post frequent, informal articles with timely information.
Other newly elected officers of the CSA include Dr. James Moore, Speaker of the House of Delegates, Dr. Christine Doyle, Vice-Speaker, and Dr. Karen Sibert, Assistant Secretary. Several officers will continue in their present roles until their terms expire, including Dr. Earl Strum, Secretary; Dr. Peter Sybert, Treasurer; Dr. William Feaster, Assistant Treasurer; and Dr. Mark Singleton, ASA Director.