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Lifebox Global Not-For-Profit Announces American Society of Anesthesiologists Joins Campaign to Improve Surgical Care in Developing Countries
Date:10/14/2011

CHICAGO, Oct. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Lifebox, a global not-for-profit organization, today announced that the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) has joined its campaign to provide life-saving pulse oximeters for operating rooms in developing countries around the world. The announcement, made today at the ASA's annual meeting ANESTHESIOLOGY 2011, means ASA is lending significant support to Lifebox by urging donations of $250 to provide pulse oximeters to reduce unnecessary fatalities in operating rooms worldwide. ASA, the largest anesthesiology organization in the world with 47,000 potential contributors to the Lifebox initiative, seeks to collect enough donations to meet 50 percent of the global need for pulse oximeters.

Pulse oximeters, a component of the World Health Organization Surgical Safety Checklist, measure the level of oxygen in a patient's blood during anesthesia, sounding an early warning alarm if a patient is becoming short of oxygen, providing an opportunity to prevent brain damage, heart failure and in some cases death.

ASA made pulse oximetry a standard of care for US anesthesiologists more than 25 years ago and these devices are widely available in hospitals throughout other high-income countries such as the United Kingdom. However, they are critically missing from operating rooms in low and middle income countries. Recent statistics estimate that the number of operating rooms working without pulse oximetry ranges from 41 percent in Latin America, to 49 percent in south Asia, to 70 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa.(1)

"The American Society of Anesthesiologists is honored to be able to contribute to Lifebox's efforts to provide oxygen monitors for hospitals in countries that would otherwise not have access to them," said ASA Immediate Past President Alexander A. Hannenberg, MD. "As anesthesiologists, we recognize the need for this lifesaving device and encourage our members to learn more about the organization and support this important initiative. ASA's signature achievement has been the safety of anesthesia care and Lifebox extends this commitment to the far corners of the world."

"The generous support we are receiving from the American Society of Anesthesiologists allows us to continue our mission of saving lives by providing the most basic tools to medical facilities internationally, said Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, founder of Lifebox, Surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health. "By closing the global pulse oximetry gap and using the World Health Organization Surgical Safety Checklist, Lifebox could cut death rates in surgery by up to a half worldwide."

Dr. Gawande, one of TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world and New York Times best-selling author of The Checklist Manifesto, will open the annual meeting with a keynote address emphasizing the importance of safe surgery. Dr. Gawande will issue a challenge: to reduce inpatient surgical mortality to less than 1 percent globally.

Lifebox has also received the support of other organizations, including the nonprofit Smile Train, a key early funder and collaborator responsible for the donation of thousands of oximeters internationally.

About the American Society of Anesthesiologists

Anesthesiologists: Physicians providing the lifeline of modern medicine. Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific association with 47,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology and improve the care of the patient.

For more information, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists website at www.asahq.org. For patient information, visit LifelineToModernMedicine.com.

About Lifebox

The not-for-profit organization Lifebox, formed in April 2011, grew out of a global initiative to make surgery safer worldwide: the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist, which has been shown to reduce surgical complications and death by more than one third. Lifebox is working to make sure no patient dies simply because a pulse oximeter is not available during surgery. The group worked with international clinicians and manufacturers to develop the world's foremost low-cost, high-quality pulse oximeter compliant with all international standards. Each oximeter package costs $250 USD, including delivery, and also includes an educational CD with training materials for self-learning, and classroom programs to teach others about pulse oximetry and the WHO Safe Surgery Checklist. Please visit www.lifebox.org to make a donation.

(1) Funk LM et al. Global operating theatre distribution and pulse oximetry supply: an estimation from reported data. Lancet. 2010 Sep 25;376(9746):1055-61. Epub 2010 Jul 2.


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