Anesthesia groups may need to determine which clinical anesthesia outcomes to track as part of quality improvement efforts. The goal of this study was to poll a panel of expert anesthesiologists to determine which clinical anesthesia outcomes associated with routine outpatient surgery were judged to occur frequently and to be important to avoid. Outcomes scoring highly in both scales could then be prioritized for measurement and improvement in ambulatory clinical practice. A mailed survey instrument instructed panel members to rate 33 clinical anesthesia outcomes in two scales: how frequently they believe the outcomes occur and which outcomes they expect patients find important to avoid. A feedback process (Delphi process) was used to gain consensus rankings of the outcomes for each scale. Importance and frequency scores were then weighted equally to qualitatively rank order the outcomes. Of the 72 anesthesiologists, 56 (78%) completed the questionnaire. The five items with the highest combined score were (in order): incisional pain, nausea, vomiting, preoperative anxiety, and discomfort from IV insertion. To increase quality of care, reducing the incidence and severity of these outcomes should be prioritized.
Implications: Expert anesthesiologists reached a consensus on which low-morbidity clinical outcomes are common and important to the patient. The outcomes identified may be reasonable choices to be monitored as part of ambulatory anesthesia clinical quality improvement efforts.