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Fifteen anaesthetists were observed while providing anaesthesia for 15 pairs of adult cardiac surgical operations, using conventional methods for one of each pair and a new drug administration system designed to reduce error for the other. Aspects of each method were rated by users on 10-cm visual analogue scales (10 being best). The new system was rated more favourably than conventional methods in terms of safety (median [range] = 8.1 [6.8–9.7] vs. 7.1 [2.6–9.3] cm; p = 0.001) and usability (8.5 [5.9–9.4] vs. 7.5 [3.2–9.8] cm; p = 0.027). The new system saved preparation time both before anaesthesia (median [range] = 180 [32–480] vs. 360 [120–600] s; p = 0.013) and during anaesthesia (10 [2–38] vs. 12 [10–60] s; p = 0.009). Prefilled syringes for the new system increased costs by €23.00 per anaesthetic (p = 0.041), but this increase is likely to be offset by the potential of the new system to decrease costly iatrogenic harm by preventing drug error.