Meet Colm

Name: Dr Colm Lanigan 

Occupation: Retired Consultant Anaesthetist

Location: London 


“I hope to let people understand the difference that a simple, cheap and robust bit of kit can make to the safety of surgery and anaesthesia…”

What motivated you to join the Lifebox Speakers Bureau?

I’d just retired as a consultant anaesthetist, and had more free time on my hands. I had helped overseas with some teaching in Nepal and recognised how useful Lifebox is. I am old enough to still remember evaluating early pulse oximeters in the 1980s when they were being introduced into UK clinical practice, when we recognised what brilliant safety monitors pulse oximeters were – the current Lifebox monitor is an even more amazing bit of kit which saves lives.

What do you hope to achieve in this role?

I would hope to let people understand the difference that a simple, cheap and robust bit of kit called a pulse oxmeter can make to the safety of surgery and anaesthesia in the developing world. In much of sub-Saharan Africa for example, recent data from the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) reports that the average number of physician trained anaesthetists is less than 1 per 100,000 of the population – compared to over 17 in the UK. The training given with a Lifebox helps non-physician anaesthetists to give safer anaesthetics in what can be challenging circumstances.

How do you prepare for a speaking engagement?

Know your audience if possible; know the venue in terms of audio-visual display and lighting; and stick to time – your organiser will never thank you for over-running!

What do you most enjoy about this role?

Meeting new people and seeing the “lightbulb moment” when they understand why Lifebox is such a good charity to support.

What does safe surgery mean to you?

As an anaesthetist, it means trying to ensure that I do the best I can for each and every patient that I anaesthetise – by minimising the risks that surgery, obstetrics and trauma interventions entail, by preparing the patient as best as possible beforehand, checking equipment, drugs and team facilities in advance, and careful monitoring throughout and after the operation – to ensure the best possible chance of a successful outcome for the patient. On a wider scale, it means looking at the systems in place, to try and minimise the risks for future patients – by training and education.