CSA’s New Partnership with Pain Management Physicians

  • Yost, Paul, MD
| Nov 24, 2014

One of the more interesting aspects of being President of the California Society of Anesthesiologists is fielding phone calls from members who have great ideas about how the CSA can better serve our members and our patients. One such call came from former CSA President Benjamin Schwachman, MD. Although Ben likes to call himself a “dead President,” he is very much alive and full of great ideas. Ben asked if the CSA wanted to be more involved with anesthesiologists who are primarily practicing pain management.

This idea makes a lot of sense. As the ASA and our specialty are moving in the direction of the Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH) and taking care of the entire patient throughout the perioperative experience, postoperative pain management and effective rehabilitation are taking on a new importance to our specialty. Having physician anesthesiologists who are specialists in pain management as part of our PSH team would help us greatly.

This partnership can be a win-win situation. Many anesthesiologists who are practicing pain management are not CSA members, nor do they think of the CSA as their professional society. There are several small organizations that do represent pain physicians in California; however, none of them are large enough to have a lobbyist or effectively advocate on behalf of their members.

The CSA is large enough to have a very effective LPAD committee and lobbying firm. Most of the legislative and regulatory issues the pain physicians face affect anesthesiologists who are practicing OR anesthesia as well. For example, when Noridian (California’s Medicare contractor) decides to change how Medicare is going to pay for nerve blocks, it affects all of us, not just the pain physicians.

This idea was brought to the CSA House of Delegates (HOD) in June. After careful deliberation, the HOD passed the following resolution:

“Resolved, that the CSA form an ad hoc committee of the President’s choosing to support California anesthesiologists who specialize in the medical practice of pain management.”

At our last Board of Directors meeting, the following members were appointed to the CSA pain committee: Shalini Shah, MD, Edward Mariano, MD, Benjamin Schwachman, MD, Melanie Henry, MD, Paul Yost, MD, and Jeffrey Poage, MD.

The committee met for the first time by conference call on Oct. 1. After introductions and sharing ideas and thoughts about the committee, Dr. Shalini Shah was elected chair. The expertise on this committee as well as the enthusiasm of the participants was truly wonderful. Some of the ideas that emerged are as follows:

  • Add more pain management content to our curriculum
  • Collaborate with the multiple societies that are currently representing pain physicians
  • Consider a cadaver CME conference
  • Consider offering education leading to a fluoroscopy license

Two projects that were suggested at the first meeting are already under way. First, Dr. Poage worked with the Medical Board of California on the recently released revised Guidelines for Prescribing Controlled Substances for Pain. He provided valuable input from the perspective of physician anesthesiologists and the CSA.

The committee is also exploring ways to work collaboratively with some of the existing pain societies. An obvious choice is the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA), given that one of our pain committee members and the CSA’s Vice Speaker, Ed Mariano, is an ASRA board member. Regional anesthesia and pain management are big issues, and we use many ASRA members as speakers at our educational events.

On a conference call, the President of ASRA, Dr. Joseph Neal; the Executive Director of ASRA, Angie Stengel; CSA’s interim Executive Director, Julie Freeman; myself as CSA President, and Dr. Mariano explored many ways to collaborate and shared information about how our societies function.

One idea that emerged was to swap booth space at our educational meetings. We realized that ASRA was holding an educational meeting in November in San Francisco at the same hotel where the CSA will be holding our 2015 Annual Meeting & Workshops in April — the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero.

This was a great idea, so the CSA had a booth at the ASRA's Pain Management meeting, complete with candy, pens, advertisements for our educational meetings and membership materials. I am looking forward to a mutually beneficial relationship with ASRA, collaborating on many issues and hosting them at our Annual Meeting.

If this task force is successful, we will seek to make it permanent. Together we are stronger. I am looking forward to finding ways the CSA and physician anesthesiologists who are practicing pain management can work together in a mutually beneficial way!

If you are interested in collaboration with CSA or have ideas, please email me at president@csahq.org.  

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