Background: Quantitative estimates of how anesthesia management impacts perioperative morbidity and mortality are limited. The authors performed a study to identify risk factors related to anesthesia management for 24-h postoperative severe morbidity and mortality.
Methods: A case-control study was performed of all patients undergoing anesthesia (1995-1997). Cases were patients who either remained comatose or died during or within 24 h of undergoing anesthesia. Controls were patients who neither remained comatose nor died during or within 24 hours of undergoing anesthesia. Data were collected by means of a questionnaire, the anesthesia and recovery form. Odds ratios were calculated for risk factors, adjusted for confounders.
Results: The cohort comprised 869,483 patients; 807 cases and 883 controls were analyzed. The incidence of 24-h postoperative death was 8.8 (95% confidence interval, 8.2-9.5) per 10,000 anesthetics. The incidence of coma was 0.5 (95% confidence interval, 0.3-0.6). Anesthesia management factors that were statistically significantly associated with a decreased risk were: equipment check with protocol and checklist (odds ratio, 0.64), documentation of the equipment check (odds ratio, 0.61), a directly available anesthesiologist (odds ratio, 0.46), no change of anesthesiologist during anesthesia (odds ratio, 0.44), presence of a full-time working anesthetic nurse (odds ratio, 0.41), two persons present at emergence (odds ratio, 0.69), reversal of anesthesia (for muscle relaxants and the combination of muscle relaxants and opiates; odds ratios, 0.10 and 0.29, respectively), and postoperative pain medication as opposed to no pain medication, particularly if administered epidurally or intramuscularly as opposed to intravenously.
Conclusions: Mortality after surgery is substantial and an association was established between perioperative coma and death and anesthesia management factors like intraoperative presence of anesthesia personnel, administration of drugs intraoperatively and postoperatively, and characteristics of delivered intraoperative and postoperative anesthetic care.