Welcome to the 35th SPA Annual Meeting, our first hybrid meeting combining virtual talks from around the world and in-person sessions from San Diego. It has been a tumultuous year for so many of us, both professionally and at home. The impact of COVID-19 cannot be overestimated, but we appear to be beginning to return to a more familiar world. The theme for this meeting is ‘Recovery’. I very much hope that this is not a premature title, only time will tell at this stage, but I wanted to embrace the optimism that effective vaccines have brought to my hospital and community. This meeting was designed to acknowledge the pandemic, identify lessons from our profession and society’s broader response to it, while also looking beyond COVID and into other topics that are current and important.
Our first session begins with a presentation of "The Grace and Beauty of Pandemics" by Dr. David Waisel (Chief of Pediatric Anesthesia at Yale, and Editor-in-Chief of the Anesthetic history). He will review the history of pandemics and lessons we should learn from them. This is followed by Dr. Jim DiNardo (Chief of Cardiac Anesthesia at Boston Children’s Hospital and an Executive Editor of the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia), who will examine whether our current academic paradigm based around journal submission, peer review, and publication can withstand the challenges of the politicization of data and disinformation created by the pandemic.
Following this look at the past and a perhaps glimpse into our future, we change tack and discuss the role of human factors in the operating room. As a result of our roles as leaders in the perioperative area, many of us have been involved with creating and implementing COVID-based protocols in our institutions. Knowledge of the way we interact with our environment, equipment, and others is vital in producing professional guidelines and I’m delighted to invite two experts to share their work with us. Dr. Fiona Kelly is chair of the Difficult Airway Society (UK) human factors working group. She will talk about the role of human factors in difficult airway management. Mr. Martin Bromiley founded the Clinical Human Factors Group following the tragic death of his wife. Elaine Bromiley died during an unanticipated emergency during airway management for a routine surgical procedure in 2005. As a result of Martin’s tragedy, he founded the Clinical Human Factors Group, a charitable trust which aims to raise awareness, challenge, and promote best practice around human factors. Since inception the Group has promoted human factors at the highest levels in healthcare, making a significant contribution to current thinking – promoting education, training and investigation have all been key priorities.
After a short break we move to the SPA Myron Yaster Lifetime Achievement Award presentation. Dr. Yaster himself will present the award to the amazing Dr. Eugenie Heitmiller. In addition to the award presentation, Dr. Tiffany Frazee will interview Dr. Heitmiller about her distinguished career and her quest to improve the safety and quality of care for our patients.
Our third session will look at the broader effects of COVID-19 on our society. There is a growing awareness of the effects that lock-down, isolation, stranger anxiety, and lack of in-person schooling has had on children with increases in psychiatric admissions and self-harm all over the world. Dr. Lisa Spector (Division Chief of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at Nemours) will discuss the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of children, and whether this may be ‘the fourth wave’ of the pandemic. Another area where COVID-19 has had a huge effect is within disadvantaged communities. We are honoured to have Professor Esther Duflo talk to us about the impact of physician (and economists!) communication in disadvantaged communities and information dissemination during the pandemic. Professor Duflo was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for Economics for her ground-breaking experimental approach into alleviating global poverty. She will be followed by Dr. Delbert Lamb (Pediatric Cardiac Anesthetic Fellow at Boston Children's Hospital and member of the Cheyenne River Sioux(Lakota) tribe) discussing the impact of COVID-19 on Native American communities, their approach to combatting the pandemic and initiatives to increase the involvement of Native Americans in medicine and pediatric anesthesia.
Drs. Sean Barnes (The SPA Social Media Guru, Chair of the SPA Communications Committee, and Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins) and Clyde Matava (Director of Innovation, Informatics and Technology at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto) will then have a debate. Well, more of a polite discussion focusing on social media and the way it helps or hinders medical professionals. Dr. Barnes will be speaking for the motion: “Social Media is a Force for Good in Pediatric Anesthesia”, Dr. Matava will vigorously dispute this.
Heading into the evening, our final session is dedicated to sleep and recovery. Dr. Chris Landrigan (Chief of the Division of General Pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital and Director, Sleep and Patient Safety Program, Brigham and Women’s Hospital) will speak on the science underlying the effects of sleep deprivation. Dr. Haleh Saadat (Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at Frank H. Netter School of Medicine) will discuss the impact of sleep deprivation on clinicians. Dr. Jennifer Rabbitts (Associate Professor of Pediatric Anesthesia and Pain Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital with an NIH-funded research program focusing on assessing and improving pain and health outcomes after pediatric surgery) will talk on the effects of sleep deprivation and pain in surgical patients.
Our final two talks will focus on what happens when things do not go as planned in the OR. Dr. Judit Szolnoki (Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at Nemours Children’s Hospital) will discuss the second and third victim phenomena. Finally, Dr. Jina Sinskey (Associate Chair of Well-Being for the Department of Anesthesia at UCSF, and Vice Chair of the American Society of Anesthesiologists Committee on Physician Well-Being) will speak on recovery after a catastrophe in the OR.
Curating an international meeting during such unusual times has been very much a team effort. Without such wonderful help from Dr. Jennifer Hernandez (Program Co-Chair) and Dr. Ted Cooper (Shadow Chair) I could not have succeeded in planning this meeting. Dr. Jim Fehr in his role as SPA Education Committee Chair has been an indispensable source of advice and, as ever, Kim Battle and the team at Ruggles have been invaluable and handled every stress we have thrown at them immaculately.
All Program & Schedule Times are Pacific Standard Time (PST).