Anaesthetic adverse incident reports: an Australian study of 1,231 outcomes

Anaesth Intensive Care. 2005 Jun;33(3):336-44. doi: 10.1177/0310057X0503300309.


While there have been previous studies looking at patterns of litigation against anaesthetists overseas, there is little reported on the trends in Australia. This study was performed to ascertain current reporting rates of anaesthetic incidents, and from what areas these reports arise. Over the five years spanning January 1999 until December 2003, 1,231 adverse anaesthetic outcomes were reported to United Medical Protection by Australian anaesthetists. As in other studies, damage relating to airway instrumentation was the most frequently reported, comprising 261 incidents (21.8%). Complications related to epidural blockade were the next most common, accounting for 182 outcomes (15.2%). Other common areas generating incident reports included nerve injuries, respiratory complications, drug side-effects and death. To date 147 claims (12.3%) have arisen from these incident reports. Knowledge of these areas of risk should translate into more effective risk management with reduction in claims and adverse patient outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia / adverse effects*
  • Anesthesiology / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Anesthesiology / statistics & numerical data
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / adverse effects
  • Cause of Death
  • Cohort Studies
  • Eye Injuries / etiology*
  • Humans