Approximately 800 cardiac surgery cases are done each year at Royal Jubilee Hospital and it is standard for the anesthesiologist to perform an intraoperative transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE). However, when the TEE shows an interesting finding which poses significant diagnostic challenges, there has been no formal mechanism to communicate this more broadly to the cardiovascular anesthesiologists, cardiovascular surgeons or cardiologists. Anesthesiologist Dr. Kevin Yee wanted to ensure that these opportunities for learning were not wasted.
Using a grant from the South Island Medical Staff Association, he set about designing evening review sessions across the three departments to review these interesting cases. Over the course of 5 sessions, cardiologists, cardiovascular anesthesiologists, and cardiovascular surgeons gathered for dinner and discussion. The topic of discussion branched out sufficiently to engage other related specialties, with an interventional cardiologist joining the group.
Beyond the value of reviewing TEE findings, one of the key benefits that resulted from this initiative was a far greater degree of communication between these three departments than would previously have occurred. In several cases, cardiac anesthesiologists were comfortably able to request a second opinion from the cardiologists intraoperatively – something that might not have occurred previously had the relationships not been more familiar. In Dr. Yee’s words, “It’s easier to ask someone for advice if you’ve had a pizza with them”.
The group has put these events on hold during the COVID-19 response but hopes to restart them again when it is deemed appropriate.
We thank Dr. Yee for his work on this initiative!