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From left: U of S researchers Fabio Magistris, Patrick Valcke and Stefan Kojic.

USask researchers win CAS award for work on patient safety

The researchers have interviewed over 200 anesthesiologists across Canada. Many underestimated the risk of airway cuffs pressure beyond safe range.

Two University of Saskatchewan anesthesiology residents working to improve patient safety have received an award from the Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society (CAS), as part of the society’s annual meeting this week. A third researcher is one of six finalists for the Residents’ Competition.    

“This award provides important recognition for the significant work of our residents in research that positively impacts patient care, and for the critical role of our medical school and its researchers in delivering healthcare improvements,” said Preston Smith, dean of the U of S College of Medicine.

Researchers Stefan Kojic and Fabio Magistris were awarded the Ian White Patient Safety Award for their research on potential damage caused by an artificial airway with balloon-like cuffs that provide a seal to anesthetized patients’ airways.

By measuring the pressure in these cuffs, Kojic and Magistris’ study shows that most patients had airway cuff pressures outside of the safe range, leading to an increased risk of permanent airway damage. When they interviewed over 200 anesthesiologists across Canada, many underestimated the risk or were unaware of it, said Kojic.

“Our study improves patient safety by raising awareness of cuff pressures and airway damage,” said Magistris. His and Kojic’s project was titled “Airway cuff pressures: prospective observational multicenter study with a Canadian-wide survey.”

Anesthesiology resident Patrick Valcke was a finalist in the CAS Resident’s Competition with a project titled “Passive leg raise to facilitate pediatric peripheral intravenous placement.” His work looked at whether raising children’s legs before surgeries makes it easier to place intravenous catheters (IV) — needles — in children’s arm veins.

He found that elevating children’s legs did not increase the size of the veins because of higher blood flow, as happens in adults, but the technique did reduce the number of attempts needed to place an IV.

“We are excited by these results because nobody likes needles,” said Valcke. “By doing this low-risk and no-cost manoeuvre, we can decrease the number of pokes it takes to place needles in kids.”

Federica Giannelli is a student intern in the U of S research profile and impact office.

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