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Swetha Pakala, MD

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About Dr. Pakala

Dr. Swetha Pakala is a board-certified anesthesiologist at HSS and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medical. She is a well-recognized expert in the use of regional anesthesia in international health and limited resource settings. In 2012, Dr. Pakala founded the Global Health Initiative (GHI) to provide sustainable education to anesthesia providers in resource-limited settings around the world, with the aim of improving anesthesia care and decreasing perioperative morbidity. By teaching physicians in resource-limited nations about regional anesthesia and how to educate their colleagues, more patients can benefit from this cost-effective anesthetic approach.

For her work with the GHI, in 2019 Dr. Pakala was the first recipient of the Leon Root, MD Community Service Award. This award recognizes the outstanding leadership of those making significant contributions to the community through initiatives that improve the health and/or healthcare of vulnerable and underserved populations.

Dr. Pakala has been involved in several public health initiatives, short-term surgical missions, and sustainable teaching efforts in countries around the world including Ghana, Vietnam, Uganda, and India. Together with Dr. Mark Brouillette, she has spearheaded the Design, Implementation and Assessment of a Global Regional Anesthesia Curriculum Engagement (GRACE) initiative, which has improved anesthesia care around the world. Her work has the potential to decrease perioperative mortality on a global scale.

Dr. Pakala completed her medical school and residency training at the University of California, San Francisco and received further specialization in regional anesthesia as a fellow at HSS, accepting an attending position at HSS at the end of her fellowship.


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Assistant Attending Anesthesiologist, Hospital for Special Surgery
Clinical Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, Weill Cornell Medical College


American Board of Anesthesiology
American Society of Regional Anesthesia
New York Society of Anesthesiologists
Health Volunteers Overseas
Society for Education in Anesthesia
Global Partners in Anesthesia & Surgery


American Board of Anesthesiology, 2012


HSS Attending Anesthesiologists' Award for Clinical Excellence 2012
Health Volunteers Overseas & Society for Education in Anesthesia Traveling Teaching Fellowship Award 2010


MD; University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); San Francisco, California; 2006


Internal Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Cabrini Medical Center; New York, NY; 2007


Anesthesiology; University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); San Francisco, California; 2011


Regional Anesthesia & Acute Pain Management; Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS); New York, NY; 2012

State Licensure



For My Patients

Publications by Dr. Pakala

Selected Journal Articles

Selected Presentations

Pakala SR.  "Principles & Practice of Safe Neuraxial Anesthesia".  Kenya Society of Anesthesiologists: "Safe Anesthesia" Conference.  Visiting Instructor for African Society of Regional Anesthesiologists.  Nairobi, Kenya. August, 2012. 
Pakala SR. “Teaching anesthesia in the developing world: context, challenges, and a vision”.  Main oral presentation at Society for Education in Anesthesia Spring Meeting, April 2011
Pakala SR, Russel B.  "Critical tracheal stenosis: emergent anesthetic induction".  Poster presented at Western Anesthesia Residents’ Conference, April 2011
Pakala SR, Rollins MD, Larson MD.  "Understanding intraoperative anisocoria".  Poster presented at Western Anesthesia Residents’ Conference, April 2010


Research Interests

Global Health in Surgery and Anesthesia

Industry Relationships

Industry Relationships

HSS has a long history of supporting appropriate relationships with industry because they advance HSS's mission to provide the highest quality patient care, improve patient mobility, and enhance the quality of life for all, and to advance the science of orthopedic surgery, rheumatology, and their related disciplines through research and education.

As of May 11, 2024, Dr. Pakala reported no relationships with the healthcare industry.

HSS and its physicians make this information available to patients and the public, thus creating a transparent environment for those who are interested in this information. Further, the HSS Conflicts of Interest and Commitment Policy prohibits physicians from collecting royalties on products they develop that are used on patients at HSS.

Dr. Pakala in the News