As part of the 5th National Audit Project of the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland concerning accidental awareness during general anaesthesia, we issued a questionnaire to every consultant anaesthetist in each of 46 public hospitals in Ireland, represented by 41 local co-ordinators. The survey ascertained the number of new cases of accidental awareness becoming known to them for patients under their care or supervision for a calendar year, as well as their career experience. Consultants from all hospitals responded, with an individual response rate of 87% (299 anaesthetists). There were eight new cases of accidental awareness that became known to consultants in 2011; an estimated incidence of 1:23 366. Two out of the eight cases (25%) occurred at or after induction of anaesthesia, but before surgery; four cases (50%) occurred during surgery; and two cases (25%) occurred after surgery was complete, but before full emergence. Four cases were associated with pain or distress (50%), one after an experience at induction and three after experiences during surgery. There were no formal complaints or legal actions that arose in 2011 related to awareness. Depth of anaesthesia monitoring was reported to be available in 33 (80%) departments, and was used by 184 consultants (62%), 18 (6%) routinely. None of the 46 hospitals had a policy to prevent or manage awareness. Similar to the results of a larger survey in the UK, the disparity between the incidence of awareness as known to anaesthetists and that reported in trials warrants explanation. Compared with UK practice, there appears to be greater use of depth of anaesthesia monitoring in Ireland, although this is still infrequent.
© 2014 The Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland.