On April 15, as part of the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ broader advocacy strategy to increase federal funding for anesthesia and pain medicine research, ASA submitted a written statement for the formal record of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies on the need for federal investment in anesthesia and pain medicine research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
In the written testimony, ASA describes the importance of supporting research on the impact of anesthesia on two vulnerable populations – pediatric and seniors. In children, ASA writes there is need for further study to determine whether the use of anesthetics may cause “long-term abnormalities in behavior, learning, and memory.” In senior patients, postoperative delirium and post-operative cognitive dysfunction are associated with post-operative morbidity and mortality. As the country’s population ages, ASA supports research to help identify patients at high-risk for developing these conditions so physician anesthesiologists may develop interventions.
Additionally, ASA supports research on acute and chronic pain management and the rationale and safe use of opioids. In the testimony, ASA writes “To relieve the burden of chronic pain and to reduce opioid overdose fatalities, ASA believes it is a health care safety and quality imperative to expand investment into basic and clinical research on the biopsychosocial mechanisms that produce and maintain chronic pain, to develop innovative non-opioid therapies to treat acute and chronic pain, to develop improved treatments for acute pain that minimize the use of opioids, and to foster a greater understanding by physicians and the public on the rational and safe use of opioids.” ASA has been engaged with the medical community and other stakeholders in efforts to address the growing opioid abuse epidemic, and supports safe and responsible efforts to address this public health crisis.
Over the past several years, ASA has worked with the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS) to determine how ASA might more effectively support advocacy for the SmartTots initiative, a public-private partnership with the FDA that coordinates and funds research with the goal of making anesthesia safer for the pediatric population. In addition, this year ASA will launch a patient safety initiative on improving brain health, fostering understanding, developing best practices, and increasing awareness of postoperative cognitive dysfunction and delirium with the goal of laying the groundwork for research into minimizing its effects.