To meet the need for essential surgery across rural Nepal, anesthesia at district level is delivered by nondoctor anesthetists. They require support to maintain confidence and competence, and upgraded professional registration to secure their status. To meet these needs, a distance-blended learning course was pioneered and delivered. A core course requirement was to log all clinical cases; these were logged on a new e-logbook.METHODS:
Fourteen nondoctor anesthesia providers working in 12 different districts across Nepal were enrolled in the 1-year course. The course is based on self-completion on a tablet loaded with new learning modules, a resource library, and a case logbook. Continuous educational mentoring was provided by anesthesiologists by phone and email. The logbook included preanesthesia assessment and interventions, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) grading, types of cases and anesthesia given, monitors used, complications, outcomes and free text remarks. Cases were uploaded monthly to a database, and mentors reviewed all logbook entries.RESULTS:
The 14 nondoctor anesthesia providers were widely distributed across the country in district, zonal, community, and mission hospitals, and had different levels of clinical experience and caseloads. Logbooks and uploads were regularly completed without difficulty; 1% cases were entered incompletely with no case details provided. A total of 4143 cases were recorded. Annual caseload per nondoctor anesthesia provider ranged from 50 to 788, the majority of which were under spinal anesthesia; 34% of the total cases were cesarean deliveries, of which 99% received spinal anesthesia. Fifty gastrointestinal laparotomies (1% total) were recorded. Ninety-one percent of cases were ASA I, 0.8% ASA III/IV. Pulse oximetry was used in 98% of cases. Complications were recorded in 6% of cases; the most common were circulation problems (69%) including hypotension and occasional bradycardia after spinal anesthesia. Airway complications were usually under ketamine anesthesia requiring basic airway maneuvers; 4 difficult intubations were recorded under general anesthesia. Anesthesia outcomes were good with overall mortality of 0.1% (total 4 cases). Causes of death included severe preeclampsia, sepsis postlaparotomy, and patients with multiorgan failure for minor procedure.CONCLUSIONS:
The tablet-based electronic anesthesia logbook was successfully used to record cases, complications, and outcomes across rural Nepal. The nondoctor anesthesia providers had trust and confidence in recording outcomes. It remains to be tested whether an e-logbook would be routinely completed outside of a specific training course. Such a logbook could be incorporated into all continuous professional development programs for rural nondoctor anesthetists.