Individualized Feedback of Volatile Agent Use Reduces Fresh Gas Flow Rate, but Fails to Favorably Affect Agent Choice


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Abstract

BackgroundCost reduction has become an important fiscal aim of many hospitals and anesthetic departments, despite its inherent limitations. Volatile anesthetic agents are some of the few drugs that are amenable to such treatment because fresh gas flow rate (FGFR) can be independent of patient volatile anesthetic agent requirement.MethodsFGFR and drug use were recorded at the temporal midpoint of 2,031 general anesthetics during a 2-month preintervention period. Staff and residents were provided with their preintervention individual mean FGFR, their peer group mean, and educational material regarding volatile agent costs and low-flow anesthesia. FGFR and drug use were remeasured over a 2-month period (postintervention) immediately after this information (N = 2,242) and again 5 months later (delayed follow-up), for a further 2-month period (N = 2,056).ResultsFor all cases, FGFR decreased from 2.4 +/− 1.1 to 1.8 +/− 1.0 l/min (26% reduction) after the intervention and increased to 1.9 +/− 1.1 l/min (5% increase of preintervention FGFR) at the time of delayed follow-up. Use of more expensive volatile agents (desflurane and sevoflurane) increased during the study period (P < 0.01). In a subgroup of 44 staff members with more than five cases in all study periods, 42 members decreased their mean FGFR after intervention. At delayed follow-up, 30 members had increased their FGFR above postintervention FGFR but below their initial FGFR. After accounting for other predictors of FGFR, the effectiveness of the intervention was significantly reduced at follow-up (28% reduction), but retained a significant effect compared to preintervention FGFR (19% reduction).ConclusionsAlthough individual feedback and education regarding volatile agent use was effective at reducing FGFR, effectiveness was reduced without continued feedback. Use of more expensive volatile agents was not reduced by education regarding drug cost, and actually increased.

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