Peter Davis, MD - Pediatric Anesthesiology Author

Peter J. Davis, MD

“It’s an interesting way in terms of how one gets to where they are—the road is never straight, it’s never linear, it’s pretty circuitous, and for me that was very true.” – Dr. Peter Davis

Dr. Davis’ Path to Pediatric Anesthesia

I am both a pediatrician and an anesthesiologist. I initially started off doing a pediatric residency at the University of California, San Francisco, and during my training, it became clear that, at that time, there was very little in the way of pediatric intensive care for children. I had developed an interest in intensive care for children, and because there were no formal training programs at that time in pediatric intensive care, on the advice of others I thought maybe the best way to do this would be to become specialized in anesthesia. At that time, at least at UCSF, anesthesiologists were running the intensive care unit, and they seemed to have the best understanding of the principles of critical care medicine. So I then went from UCSF to the Mass General Hospital in Boston, where I completed an anesthesia residency. After that, I decided to do a year of additional training in both pediatric anesthesia and pediatric critical care medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I then took a position in Pittsburgh at the Children’s Hospital where I was both a pediatric anesthesiologist and also a pediatric critical care physician. Over the past 27 years, my practice has evolved to more pediatric anesthesia. It’s an interesting way in terms of how one gets to where they are—the road is never straight, it’s never linear, it’s pretty circuitous, and for me that was very true.

The Go-To book for Pediatric Anesthesia

Smith’s Anesthesia for Infants and Children is currently in its eighth edition. The book was one of the original textbooks in pediatric anesthesia. It has been referred to as “The Bible.” I think it still is a bible for pediatric anesthesia, and we’ve been fortunate to be a part of this. The first four editions were written by Robert Smith, who was the Chief of Anesthesiology at the Harvard Medical School, and the fifth edition occurred when he was retiring and asked my colleague, Dr. Etsuro Motoyama, if he would take over the book. Dr. Motoyama then asked me to help him. Dr. Motoyama and I have been involved in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth edition. In the eighth edition, we added one more editor to the book, Dr. Franklin Cladis.

Hot Topics in Pediatric Anesthesia

I think one of the hot topics in pediatric anesthesia is regional anesthesia. This book has a tremendous focus on regional anesthesia. The authors of that chapter have done an incredible job in terms of both the written material as well as the video content on placing blocks. That’s huge. The cardiac section of this book is as up-to-date as any book in the world in terms of pediatric congenital heart disease. The authors of that chapter have also done an incredible job. In addition, there is accompanying information and material on the website that goes along with the chapter with regards to transesophageal-echocardiograms and trans-thoracic echocardiograms. There’s also a module on basic anatomy from the pathological specimens that we have had in our hospital.


Peter J. Davis, MD is Anesthesiologist-in-Chief at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Professor of Anesthesiology and Pediatrics at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. His academic interests involve the clinical pharmacology of intravenous and inhalational anesthetic agents and anesthetic adjuncts and how they affect children. He is renowned in the field, and serves on the Scientific Review Committee of the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation. Dr. Davis is editor of Smith’s Anesthesia for Infants and Children.