Complaints and incident reports related to anaesthesia service are foremost attributed to nontechnical skills

Eur J Anaesthesiol. 2011 Jan;28(1):29-33. doi: 10.1097/EJA.0b013e32833e364c.


Background and objectives: While anaesthesiology is still perceived as a rather technical specialty, nontechnical skills of anaesthesiologists become increasingly important. In this context, we hypothesised that complaints and incident reports about anaesthesia service are often related to nontechnical skills. To test this hypothesis, we attributed complaints and incident reports to the seven roles of CanMEDS (Canadian Medical Educational Directives for Specialists), which are the role of 'medical expert', 'communicator', 'collaborator', 'health advocate', 'manager', 'scholar' and the role of 'professional'.

Methods: All complaints and incidents reported to the Anaesthesiology Department of the VU University Medical Centre Amsterdam (2001-2007) were analysed and attributed to the seven CanMEDS roles.

Results: In total, 169 reports could be identified, of which the majority were related to changes in operating room schedules (24%), teeth damage during laryngoscopy (9%), insufficient information about anaesthetic procedures (9%) or insufficient communication with other professionals (9%). Most reports were attributed to the roles of medical expert (39%) or manager (38%), followed by reports about the roles as professional (9%) and communicator (8%).

Conclusion: Our data suggest an increased importance of nontechnical skills in addition to medical expertise in anaesthesia service. We propose to take this aspect into consideration in postgraduate training programmes of anaesthesiologists to improve satisfaction of patients as well as colleagues.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Anesthesia / adverse effects*
  • Anesthesia / methods
  • Anesthesiology / organization & administration
  • Anesthesiology / standards*
  • Communication
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Laryngoscopy / adverse effects
  • Laryngoscopy / methods
  • Netherlands
  • Operating Rooms / organization & administration
  • Professional Role
  • Retrospective Studies