Dr. Claude Brunson, professor emeritus of anesthesiology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, has been recognized by his peers for service to patient care.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists awarded the 2021 Bertram W. Coffer, MD Excellence in Government to Brunson, executive director of the Mississippi State Medical Association. The honor recognizes his “tireless leadership in protecting patient safety in Mississippi,” ASA officials announced.

Citing his accomplishments, the ASA said, “Dr. Brunson, MSMA and the Mississippi Society of Anesthesiologists successfully led a charge to preserve the safest, high-quality anesthesia care for the citizens of his state, including an innovative social media campaign ending with the first public denial of a request to opt-out of the federal physician supervision requirements for nurse anesthetists.

“His impressive determination to preserve physician-led care for the citizens of Mississippi is a testament to his dedication to the specialty and to patients,” said Dr. Beverly K. Philip, ASA president.

The award is made in the name of Coffer, its first recipient, for his work on behalf of the ASA. An anesthesiologist is recognized each year for contributions to the specialty which promote the organization’s main legislative, political and regulatory concerns.

Brunson has been a longtime member of the ASA board of directors and is a past president of MSMA and MSA. He began his term as MSMA executive director in 2019.

He made history as the first African American physician elected president of the MSMA, and then as its first African American executive director. At UMMC, he also served as senior advisor to the vice chancellor for external affairs.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this recognition from my colleagues and peers at the ASA,” Brunson said. “The advocacy we do as physician anesthesiologists is more critical now than in any time in our history as we work to maintain a high quality and safe delivery of anesthesia and pain medical services to Mississippians … and to Americans across our nation.

“None of the successes I or my colleagues have had in protecting the public safety in our specialty would be possible without the support of ASA leadership, staff and its excellent Government Affairs Division.”

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