Analysis of 30 anaesthesia-related deaths in Germany between 2006 and 2015: An analysis of a closed claims database.

Koppenberg, Joachim; Stoevesandt, Dietrich; Watzke, Stefan; Schwappach, David; Bucher, Michael (2022). Analysis of 30 anaesthesia-related deaths in Germany between 2006 and 2015: An analysis of a closed claims database. European journal of anaesthesiology, 39(1), pp. 33-41. Wolters Kluwer 10.1097/EJA.0000000000001586

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BACKGROUND

Anaesthesiology is one of the safest fields in medicine today in relation to mortality. Deaths directly because of anaesthesia have fortunately now become rare exceptions. Nevertheless, important findings can still be drawn from the rare deaths that still occur.

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to identify and analyse the causes of deaths related to anaesthesia alone over a 10-year period.

DESIGN

Retrospective structured analysis of a database of medical liability claims.

SETTING

Hospitals at all levels of care in Germany.

PATIENTS

The database of a large insurance broker included data for 81 413 completed liability claims over the 10-year period from 2006 to 2015. Among 1914 cases associated with anaesthetic procedures, 56 deaths were identified. Of these, 30 clearly involved anaesthesia (Edwards category 1) and were included in the evaluation.

INTERVENTIONS

None (retrospective database analysis).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES

Causes of anaesthesia-related death identified from medical records, court records, expert opinions and autopsy reports.

RESULTS

The 30 deaths were analysed in detail at the case and document level. They included high proportions of 'potentially avoidable' deaths, at 86.6%, and what are termed 'never events', at 66.7%. Problems with the airway were the cause in 40% and problems with correct monitoring in 20%. In addition, communication problems were identified as a 'human factor' in 50% of the cases.

CONCLUSION

The majority of the anaesthesia-related deaths investigated could very probably have been avoided with simple anaesthesiological measures if routine guidelines had been followed and current standards observed. Actions to be taken are inferred from these results, and recommendations are made. In future, greater care must be taken to ensure that the level of safety already achieved in anaesthesiology can be maintained despite demographic developments and increasing economic pressures.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Schwappach, David

Subjects:

600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services

ISSN:

1365-2346

Publisher:

Wolters Kluwer

Language:

English

Submitter:

Doris Kopp Heim

Date Deposited:

30 Aug 2021 17:36

Last Modified:

21 Dec 2021 19:43

Publisher DOI:

10.1097/EJA.0000000000001586

PubMed ID:

34397508

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/159093

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/159093

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