Catherine Chen, MD

Assoc Professor in Residence

Dr. Catherine L. Chen is a board-certified anesthesiologist and health services researcher with a primary research interest in optimizing the quality and value of care patients receive during the perioperative period. She holds an appointment as Associate Professor in the UCSF Department of Anesthesia & Perioperative Care and at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. Her research program is focused on identifying and reducing low-value care, especially instances of perioperative healthcare overutilization that may not be of benefit and can cause potential harm to surgical patients. She employs large datasets, such as Medicare claims and the OptumLabs Data Warehouse, as well as interdisciplinary and cross-institutional collaborations to conduct her research.

Dr. Chen’s studies have highlighted the increased risk of delayed surgery and falls associated with the overuse of routine preoperative testing in cataract surgery patients as well as the unintended consequences of inappropriate opioid prescription, including opioid over-prescription at hospital discharge. Using quantitative and qualitative approaches, Dr. Chen’s current work aims to improve our understanding of anesthesia resource utilization during cataract surgery to better allocate anesthesia personnel to those cataract patients who may benefit most from having an anesthesiologist supervising their care intraoperatively. Other areas of interest include perioperative healthcare disparities, COVID-19’s impact on surgical care, and environmental sustainability in the operating room.

Dr. Chen sits on the editorial boards of Anesthesia & Analgesia and the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia and holds national leadership positions representing key organizations including the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research and the Early Stage Anesthesiology Scholars. In her clinical work, Dr. Chen supervises and trains residents and medical students while providing operating room anesthesia and obstetric anesthesia to patients seeking medical care at UCSF’s Parnassus, Mission Bay, and Mount Zion campuses. When she’s not doing research or caring for patients, Dr. Chen enjoys making music, baking, gardening, and watching Kdramas with her husband and three daughters.

Perumal D, Lee SJ, Chen CL. Perioperative Risk Assessment and Avoiding Overuse of Anesthesia Care for Routine Cataract Surgery-Reply. JAMA Intern Med. 2023 05 01; 183(5):497-498.
Lazzareschi DV, Fong N, Mavrothalassitis O, Whitlock EL, Chen CL, Chiu C, Adelmann D, Bokoch MP, Chen LL, Liu KD, Pirracchio R, Mathis MR, Legrand M, MPOG Collaborators. Intraoperative Use of Albumin in Major Noncardiac Surgery: Incidence, Variability, and Association With Outcomes. Ann Surg. 2023 10 01; 278(4):e745-e753.
Phero A, Dutton RP, Chen CL, Whitlock EL. Contemporary anesthesia practice for cataract surgery: analysis of the National Anesthesia Clinical Outcomes Registry. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2022 12 01; 48(12):1472-1474.
Olmos AV, Robinowitz D, Feiner JR, Chen CL, Gandhi S. Reducing Volatile Anesthetic Waste Using a Commercial Electronic Health Record Clinical Decision Support Tool to Lower Fresh Gas Flows. Anesth Analg. 2023 02 01; 136(2):327-337.
Perumal D, Dudley RA, Gan S, Boscardin WJ, Gill A, Gelb AW, Lee SJ, Chen CL. Anesthesia Care for Cataract Surgery in Medicare Beneficiaries. JAMA Intern Med. 2022 Oct 03.
Langnas E, Bishara A, Croci R, Rodriguez-Monguio R, Wick EC, Chen CL, Guan Z. Opioid prescribing practices at hospital discharge for surgical patients before and after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2016 opioid prescribing guideline. BMC Anesthesiol. 2022 05 11; 22(1):141.
Rodriguez-Monguio R, Lun Z, Bongiovanni T, Chen CL, Seoane-Vazquez E. Postoperative Respiratory Events in Surgical Patients Exposed to Opioid Analgesic Shortages Compared to Fully Matched Patients Non-exposed to Shortages. Drug Saf. 2022 04; 45(4):359-367.
Choi BJJ, Chen CL. The Triple Bottom Line and Stabilization Wedges: A Framework for Perioperative Sustainability. Anesth Analg. 2022 03 01; 134(3):475-485.
Chen CL, Gold GJ, Cannesson M, Lucero JM. Calling Out Aversive Racism in Academic Medicine. N Engl J Med. 2021 Dec 30; 385(27):2499-2501.
Langnas E, Rodriguez-Monguio R, Luo Y, Croci R, Dudley RA, Chen CL. The association of multimodal analgesia and high-risk opioid discharge prescriptions in opioid-naive surgical patients. Perioper Med (Lond). 2021 Dec 15; 10(1):60.
Lee SJ, Smith AK, Diaz-Ramirez LG, Covinsky KE, Gan S, Chen CL, Boscardin WJ. A Novel Metric for Developing Easy-to-Use and Accurate Clinical Prediction Models: The Time-cost Information Criterion. Med Care. 2021 05 01; 59(5):418-424.
Chen CL, Lucero JM. We Asked the Experts: Breaking the Cycle of Attrition in Perioperative Academic Medicine. World J Surg. 2021 01; 45(1):53-56.
Dixit AA, Elser H, Chen CL, Ferschl M, Manuel SP. Language-Related Disparities in Pain Management in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit for Children Undergoing Laparoscopic Appendectomy. Children (Basel). 2020 Oct 04; 7(10).
Rodriguez-Monguio R, Naveed M, Croci R, Gross K, Langnas E, Chen CL, Seoane-Vazquez E. Perioperative Prescribing Practices of Extended-Release Opioids in Noncancer Surgical Patients, 2015-2018. Anesth Analg. 2020 10; 131(4):1249-1259.
Chen CL, McLeod SD, Lietman TM, Shen H, Boscardin WJ, Chang HP, Whooley MA, Gelb AW, Lee SJ, Dudley RA. Preoperative Medical Testing and Falls in Medicare Beneficiaries Awaiting Cataract Surgery. Ophthalmology. 2021 02; 128(2):208-215.
Liu C, Ahmed K, Chen CL, Dudley RA, Gonzales R, Orrico K, Yerneni K, Stienen MN, Veeravagu A, Desai A, Park J, Ratliff JK, Zygourakis CC. Association Between Physician Industry Payments and Cost of Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion in Medicare Beneficiaries. World Neurosurg. 2020 11; 143:e574-e580.
Dixit AA, Chen CL, Inglis-Arkell C, Manuel SP. Assessment of Unused Opioids Following Ambulatory Surgery. Am Surg. 2020 Jun; 86(6):652-658.
Jeffery MM, Chaisson CE, Hane C, Rumanes L, Tucker J, Hang L, McCoy R, Chen CL, Bicket MC, Hooten WM, Larochelle M, Becker WC, Kornegay C, Racoosin JA, Sanghavi D. Assessment of Potentially Inappropriate Prescribing of Opioid Analgesics Requiring Prior Opioid Tolerance. JAMA Netw Open. 2020 04 01; 3(4):e202875.
Chen CL, Jeffery MM, Krebs EE, Thiels CA, Schumacher MA, Schwartz AJ, Thombley R, Finlayson E, Rodriguez-Monguio R, Ward D, Dudley RA. Long-Term Trends in Postoperative Opioid Prescribing, 1994 to 2014. J Am Acad Orthop Surg Glob Res Rev. 2020 01; 4(1).
Chen CL, Clay TH, McLeod S, Chang HP, Gelb AW, Dudley RA. A Revised Estimate of Costs Associated With Routine Preoperative Testing in Medicare Cataract Patients With a Procedure-Specific Indicator. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2018 03 01; 136(3):231-238.
Chen CL, Neuman MD. Do Anesthetic Choices Signal Quality? Anesthesiology. 2018 03; 128(3):429-430.
Chen CL, Gelb AW, Dudley RA. Preoperative Testing in Patients Undergoing Cataract Surgery. N Engl J Med. 2015 07 16; 373(3):285-6.
Chen CL, Lin GA, Bardach NS, Clay TH, Boscardin WJ, Gelb AW, Maze M, Gropper MA, Dudley RA. Preoperative medical testing in Medicare patients undergoing cataract surgery. N Engl J Med. 2015 Apr 16; 372(16):1530-8.
Chen CL, Shore AD, Johns R, Clark JM, Manahan M, Makary MA. The impact of obesity on breast surgery complications. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2011 Nov; 128(5):395e-402e.
Chen CL, Shapiro ML, Angood PB, Makary MA. Patient Safety.. In: Brunicardi FC, Andersen DK, Billiar TR, Dunn DL, Hunter JG, Pollock RE, eds. Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery. 9th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. 2009.
Makary MA, Chen CL, Meguid R, Al-Attar A, eds. General Surgery Review. 2nd ed. Washington DC: Ladner-Drysdale. 2008.
Price LA, Thombs B, Chen CL, Milner SM. Liver disease in burn injury: evidence from a national sample of 31,338 adult patients. J Burns Wounds. 2007 Jun 12; 7:e1.
Honors and Awards: 
Exceptional Service to IHPS Award (Mentoring), Phillip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF, 2023
FAER Resident Scholar, Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research, 2011