LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 26, 2015) – Dr. John H. Eichhorn, professor of Anesthesiology and Provost’s Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, authored a paper earlier in his career titled, "Standards for Patient Monitoring During Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School," which is named in the current issue of the prestigious journal, Anesthesia and Analgesia, as one of the top 20 most important articles in anesthesiology ever written.
The Anesthesia and Analgesia review of the most important articles cites papers dating back to 1846 when the use of ether was first demonstrated (No. 1 on the list). Eichhorn's report of the work of a committee he chaired starting in the mid 1980s at Harvard was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It describes the development and implementation of practice standards and protocols that ultimately changed clinical behavior of an entire profession, and virtually eliminated intraoperative anesthesia catastrophes caused by human error.
The landmark paper was ranked No. 10 on the review list, and, as that article indicates, it was a real "game changer," the impact of which persists today around the world. As a result of career-long efforts to improve patient safety and quality of care in anesthesia, in 2011 Eichhorn received the John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award for Individual Achievement from the National Quality Forum (NQF) and the Joint Commission, the highest recognition there is in healthcare safety and quality.
“It was an exciting time back then,” said Eichhorn. “Some serious lapses in anesthesia care had led to severe patient injuries, and my group was directed to find a remedy. The solution required changing behaviors while also greatly improving on human senses in the OR by using what were then brand-new sensitive electronic technologies to monitor patients under anesthesia."
"It was the first example of creating published standards of practice specifically intended to change clinical behavior, Eichhorn added. "Fortunately, it worked, and since then to now, those practices are totally routine everywhere, every day. I speak also for my colleagues in stating we are very honored by this recognition.”
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