Anesthesia care handover during surgery linked to worse outcomes: 4 things to know

Handing over patient care from one anesthesiologist to another during surgery is associated with worse postoperative outcomes, found a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Here are four things you need to know:

1.This retrospective cohort study included 313,066 adults undergoing major surgeries expected to last at least two hours and requiring at least one night of hospital stay.

2. The rate of all-cause death, hospital readmission, or major postoperative complications over 30 days was 44 percent for surgeries with complete intraoperative handover of anesthesia care. For surgeries with no intraoperative handover of care, the rate of these postoperative outcomes was 29 percent.

3. Handovers were tied to significantly more all-cause deaths and major complications, but not to hospital readmissions.

4. The authors identified poor communication as a reason for this difference and suggested an that an improved system of anesthesia handovers would provide an opportunity to improve patient safety.

"In this model," the authors wrote, "the handover is a chance to correct errors and could almost be considered an embedded independent consult. Such communication might prevent an inadvertent oversight of a required action and resultant patient harm."

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