A recent study released in the March issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia indicated that more than 80% of anesthesiologists have been involved in an adverse event – defined as causing death or injury – to a patient during surgery.
While that number may appear startling, it must be mentioned that translates to an average of 4.4 events over an entire career – many of which last more than 25 years – including many incidents that are unavoidable.
70% experienced some form of guilt or anxiety following the incident, even if it was unpreventable. That percentage can certainly be attributed to human nature coming into play, as it is with 67% of MDs who believed their work was compromised in the immediate hours afterwards.
What may be unnerving about the study isn’t the aforementioned. After all, unforeseen incidents do happen and doctors are bound to have some sort of emotional response as outlined in past research projects.
What is surprising, however, is the response by hospital administration to quell the hospital anesthesia clinicians’ emotions. Only seven percent of MDs were given time off and most were required to go about their business as usual. The overwhelming majority of respondents believed that a debriefing session after the event would have been beneficial.
Robert Farrar, MD, Somnia Anesthesia’s vice president of medical affairs, has been a board-certified anesthesiologist for 25 years and was a featured speaker on Somnia’s latest webinar. Discussing the benefits of the anesthesia care team model, he touched upon a decrease in burnout and fatigue for clinicians who practice in that type of care.
Addressing the problem is a dual-focused initiative, with one area focused on alleviating staffing shortages and the other a quality control concern, Dr. Farrar believes.
“Besides being beneficial to the facility, use of the Anesthesia care team model can be beneficial to the anesthesia care provider as well,” said Dr. Farrar. “The ability to have available “down time” when there is a critical event is of incalculable advantage to the provider. Moreover, patients get better care since their provider is not preoccupied with other events.”