The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Closed Claims database was started in 1985 to study anaesthesia injuries to improve patient safety, now containing 8954 claims with 5230 claims since 1990. Over the decades, claims for surgical anaesthesia decreased, while claims for acute and chronic pain management increased. In the 2000s, chronic pain management involved 18%, acute pain management 9% and obstetrical anaesthesia formed 8% of claims. Surgical anaesthesia claims with monitored anaesthesia care (MAC) increased in the 2000s to 10% of claims, while regional anaesthesia involved 19%. The most common complications were death (26%), nerve injury (22%) and permanent brain damage (9%). The most common damaging events due to anaesthesia in claims were regional-block-related (20%), respiratory (17%), cardiovascular (13%) and equipment-related events (10%). This review examines recent findings and clinical implications for injuries in management of the difficult airway, MAC, non-operating room locations, obstetric anaesthesia and chronic pain management.
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