Critical incidents in paediatric anaesthesia: an audit of 10 000 anaesthetics in Singapore

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SummaryBackgroundWe undertook an audit of paediatric perioperative incidents in the first 10000 anaesthetics administered in KK Women's and Children's Hospital in Singapore between May 1997 and April 1999. The spectrum of surgery performed ranged from simple ambulatory surgery to open heart surgery for complicated congenital heart diseases.MethodsAn audit form is completed for every anaesthetic delivered and critical incidents are reported on the reverse blank page of the audit form. An anaesthetic incident was defined as ‘any incident which affected, or could have affected, the safety of the patient under anaesthetic care’.ResultsTwo hundred and ninety-seven critical incidents were reported. The majority of them happened in healthy patients (80.1% ASA I and II) scheduled for elective surgery (73.3%). Critical incidents in infants less than 1 year of age were four times as common as in older children (8.6% versus 2.1%). Incidents occurred mainly during maintenance (80.6%). There was no anaesthetic mortality. Respiratory events were the most common (77.4%) with laryngospasm accounting for 35.7%. Cardiovascular incidents (10.8%) included hypotension from haemorrhage and sepsis, and dysrhythmias. The incidence of equipment and pharmacologically related problems was low.ConclusionsFuture reviews of a larger patient population may be helpful to determine trends of perioperative events and whether quality assurance programs have made a difference.

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