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Keith P. Lewis, RPh, MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine—who began his career in pharmacy and cancer chemotherapy at Yale University—brings focus and motivation to improving periprocedural safety and rethinking processes. “I pursued a career in pharmacy first. I was always intrigued about the safety element of medicine,” he says. “When I worked in a cancer chemotherapy clinic, the person who hired me told me I would be a good candidate for medical school—and here I am.” Dr. Lewis’ résumé is a testament to his never-ending pursuit of changing the paradigm.
At Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center (BMC), Dr. Lewis served as professor and chair, Department of Anesthesiology, and chief of anesthesiology, respectively. He facilitated the merging of the Boston City Hospital and Boston University Medical Center Hospital operating rooms. He served for 20 years as a senior anesthesiologist and is a past president of Anaesthesia Associates of Massachusetts—one of the largest academic and private practices in the Boston area. There, he helped to develop a high-risk bariatric surgery program, a state-of-the-art multimedia center, a multidisciplinary pain clinic, and a surgical robotics program, among others. He also helped to establish a cutting-edge simulation center focusing on team training. Under his leadership, his department received multiple nationally recognized safety awards.
Practicing anesthesiology led to Dr. Lewis’ development of imaginative workspace designs. He gained renown for the conceptualization and design of the Moakley Ambulatory Surgery Center’s “ORs of the Future” at BMC—six ambulatory operating rooms with fast-track anesthesia techniques. Last fall, BMC introduced the Integrated Procedural Platform, another concept that Dr. Lewis helped to design, which consolidates all procedural-based specialties side by side on one floor, facilitating integrated care for patients requiring interventional procedures.
Dr. Lewis’ educational background speaks to his inner drive for constant discovery. He completed his internship in surgery at New England Deaconess Hospital and his anesthesiology residency training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital after receiving his medical degree from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Dr. Lewis also trained in cardiac anesthesia at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and served on the Harvard faculty for 14 years prior to joining Boston University School of Medicine.
The general theme throughout Dr. Lewis’ career has been to minimize or eliminate the variables that can impact patient safety. He designed and rolled out the official universal Protocol focusing on quality and patient safety at BMC, and he has received national awards for that and other safety initiatives. Not only did he spearhead a national symposium, “Positioning Your ORs for the Future,” but, with his team, he wrote a book on patient safety, OK to Proceed? What Every Healthcare Provider Should Know about Patient Safety. “The book’s 52 chapters offer strategies on how to potentially avoid adverse outcomes,” Dr. Lewis says. “It’s all about making the experience the safest for our patients.”
In addition to chairing the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Dr. Lewis is serving as chief of anesthesia and director of perioperative quality and safety at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, an RWJBarnabas Health facility. He sees enormous potential for synergy. “I am excited that there is so much passion and commitment here, and that everyone is invested in the concept of patient safety and streamlining and improving the way we practice,” he says. “I feel like this is an outstanding opportunity to create leading-edge changes, providing the best value-based integrated care and putting the patient at the center of it all.”
Along with changing traditional practice and revolutionizing processes, Dr. Lewis also looks forward to what he calls “flipping the classroom” by integrating simulation into the educational experience. He sees great value in utilizing new technological advances to train all health care staff.
The holistic goal, as always, is to work with the community to make it healthier. That requires a willingness to look at things differently. He believes there is great benefit in seeing things from many perspectives while making active listening central to his management style. One thing is for certain: he can’t wait to see where all of this new energy leads.