Improving communication during anaesthesia care transition in the operating room

Jullia, Marion et al. Training in intraoperative handover and display of a checklist improve communication during transfer of care: An interventional cohort study of anaesthesia residents and nurse anaesthetists. European Journal of Anaesthesiology: July 2017 – Volume 34 – Issue 7 – p 471–476

BACKGROUND: Handovers during anaesthesia are common, and failures in communication may lead to morbidity and mortality.

OBJECTIVES: We hypothesised that intraoperative handover training and display of a checklist would improve communication during anaesthesia care transition in the operating room.

DESIGN: Interventional cohort study.

SETTING: Single-centre tertiary care university hospital.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 204 random observations of handovers between anaesthesia providers (residents and nurse anaesthetists) over a 6-month period in 2016.

INTERVENTION: Two geographically different hospital sites were studied simultaneously (same observations, but no training/checklist at the control site): first a 2-week ‘baseline’ observation period; then handover training and display of checklists in each operating room (at the intervention site only) followed by an ‘immediate’ second and finally a third (3 months later) observation period.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: A 22-item checklist was created by a modified DELPHI method and a checklist score calculated for each handover by adding the individual scores for each item as follows: −1, if error in communicating item; 0, unreported item; 0.5, if partly communicated item; 1, if correctly communicated item.

RESULTS: Before training and display of the checklist, the scores in the interventional and the control groups were similar. There was no improvement in the control group’s scores over the three observation periods. In the interventional group, the mean (95% confidence interval) score increased by 43% [baseline 7.6 (6.7 to 8.4) n = 42; ‘immediate’ 10.9 (9.4 to 12.4) n = 27, P < 0.001]. This improvement persisted at 3 months without an increase in the mean duration of handovers.

CONCLUSION: Intraoperative handover training and display of a checklist in the operating room improved the checklist score for intraoperative transfer of care in anaesthesia.

Full article available at European Journal of Anaesthesiology

Measuring and Improving the Quality of Preprocedural Assessments

Preprocedural assessments are used by anesthesia providers to optimize perioperative care for patients undergoing invasive procedures | Anesthesia & Analgesia


When these assessments are performed in advance by providers who are not caring for the patient during the procedure, there is an additional layer of complexity in ensuring that the workup meets the needs of the primary anesthesia care team. In this study, anesthesia providers were asked to rate the quality of preprocedural assessments prepared by other providers to evaluate anesthesia care team

The overwhelming majority of preprocedural assessments performed at our institution were considered satisfactory or exemplary by day-of-surgery anesthesia providers. This was demonstrated by both the case-by-case ratings and midpoint survey. However, the perceived frequency of “unsatisfactory” evaluations was worse when providers were asked to reflect on the quality of preprocedural evaluations generally versus rate them individually. Analysis of comments left by providers allowed us to identify specific and actionable areas for improvement. This method can be used by other institutions to identify systemic deficiencies in the preprocedural evaluation process.

Full reference: Manji, F. et al. (2017) Measuring and Improving the Quality of Preprocedural Assessments. Anesthesia & Analgesia. 124(6 ) pp. 1846–1854

Impact of spinal anaesthesia vs. general anaesthesia on peri-operative outcome in lumbar spine surgery

Meng, T. et al. (2017) Anaesthesia. 72(3) pp. 391-401

Introduction: The authors systematically reviewed the comparative evidence for the use of spinal anaesthesia versus general anaesthesia for lumbar spinal surgery.

Results: Eight studies with a total of 625 patients were included. These were considered to be at high risk of bias. Compared with general anaesthesia, the risk ratio (95% confidence interval [CI]) with spinal anaesthesia for intraoperative hypertension was 0.31 (0.15 to 0.64), I2 = 0% (p=0.002); for intraoperative tachycardia 0.51 (0.30 to 0.84), I2 = 0% (p=0.009); for analgesic requirement in the post-anaesthesia care unit 0.32 (0.24 to 0.43), I2 = 0% (p<0.0001); and for nausea/vomiting within 24 hours postoperatively 0.29 (0.18 to 0.46), I2 = 12% (p<0.00001). The standardised mean difference (95% CI) for hospital stay was -1.15 (–1.98 to –0.31), I2 = 89% (p=0.007). There was no evidence of a difference in intraoperative hypotension and bradycardia, blood loss, surgical time and analgesic requirement within 24 hours postoperatively or nausea/vomiting in the post-anaesthesia care unit.

Conclusions: The authors conclude that spinal anaesthesia appears to offer advantages over general anaesthesia for lumbar spine surgery.

Read the full abstract here

Implications of Perioperative Team Setups for Operating Room Management Decisions

Doll, D. et al. (2017) Anesthesia & Analgesia. 124(1) pp. 262–269


Background: Team performance has been studied extensively in the perioperative setting, but the managerial impact of interprofessional team performance remains unclear. We hypothesized that the interplay between anesthesiologists and surgeons would affect operating room turnaround times, and teams that worked together over time would become more efficient.


Conclusions: A surgeon is usually predefined for scheduled surgeries (surgical list). Allocation of the right anesthesiologist to a list and to a surgeon can affect the team performance; thus, this assignment has managerial implications regarding the operating room efficiency affecting turnaround times and thus potentially overutilized time of a list at our hospital

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NICE: Traditional under the tongue temperature-taking helps patients avoid hypothermia during surgery

Traditional under the tongue or armpit temperature-taking are among the recommended ways of monitoring a patient’s temperature to help avoid hypothermia during surgery, says NICE.


The updated guideline on preventing and managing hypothermia during surgery also says that some familiar methods of taking a patient’s temperature – such as infrared ear thermometers and forehead strips – should not be used to measure the temperature in adults before, during or after surgery.

Hypothermia is classed as the body temperature dropping below 36.0°C – if this happens during surgery it can lead to the patient losing more blood, more chance of heart problems, and slower healing.  Normal body temperature is typically in a range between 36.5ºC and 37.5ºC.

Read the full overview here

Prevention of Surgical Site Infections After Major Gynecologic Surgery

Pellegrini, J. et al. Anesthesia & Analgesia. Published online: December 1 2016

medical-1849086_960_720.pngThe primary purpose of this safety bundle is to provide recommendations that can be implemented into any surgical environment in an effort to reduce the incidence of surgical site infection. This bundle was developed by a multidisciplinary team convened by the Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care. The bundle is organized into four domains: Readiness, Recognition and Prevention, Response, and Reporting and Systems Learning. In addition to recommendations for practice, each of the domains stresses communication and teamwork between all members of the surgical team. Although the bundle components are designed to be adaptable to work in a variety of clinical settings, standardization within institutions is encouraged.

Read the full abstract here

Anaesthesia in the elderly

Chambers, D.L. Allen, M.W.B. Anaesthesia & Intensive Care Medicine. Published online: December 2 2016


Older people are undergoing increasingly complex surgery with much greater mortality and morbidity than the younger adult population. In this article, we discuss the physiological changes that take place in the older patient, and how these may affect anaesthetic technique. Perioperative risk in the elderly is discussed, with focus on emergency surgery and frailty.

Read the abstract here