The Australian Incident Monitoring Study. Patient awareness during anaesthesia: an analysis of 2000 incident reports

Anaesth Intensive Care. 1993 Oct;21(5):653-4. doi: 10.1177/0310057X9302100528.


Amongst the first 2000 incidents reported to the Australian Incident Monitoring Study were 16 cases in which patient recall of perioperative events was consistent with awareness. Awareness that occurred in 3 of 10 cases during anaesthesia was attributed to low concentrations of volatile anaesthetic agent; the conduct of anaesthesia appeared to be unremarkable in the other 7. The remaining 6 cases involved the inadvertent paralysis of patients prior to induction of anaesthesia, most commonly by "syringe swap" when suxamethonium was given instead of fentanyl. Some of these patients were significantly distressed. These preliminary findings suggest that incident monitoring should be useful in the study of awareness associated with anaesthesia and the development of strategies to prevent it.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia*
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Risk Management / methods*