Study: Negative Effects of Propofol Scheduling Are Exaggerated

A study by researchers at the University of Colorado in Aurora found that propofol scheduling did not change how providers practiced, according to an Anesthesiology News report.

The university decided to add propofol to the institution's catalogue of Schedule II controlled drugs in Dec. 2009. Following the decision, the administration decided to mount a case study on how the change affected the university's anesthesia providers. Many clinicians have objected to the scheduling of propofol, saying the official designation could add an unnecessary burden.

The researchers, led by Christopher Lace, MD, associate professor of anesthesiology at UC, used the facility's anesthesia information management system to compare prescribing patterns and patient outcomes in the six months before and after scheduling. The study found no statistically significant difference between mean dose on induction, proportion of patients receiving phenylephrine or ephedrine to counteract low blood pressure or rate of hypotension before and after scheduling.

The group did notice a difference in the number of cases where clinicians administered the full amount the hospital's pharmacy dispenses for a single unit of propofol. The percentage of patients receiving the full amount increased from 1.4 percent before scheduling to 3 percent after scheduling.

Dr. Lace said the increase may reflect efforts by providers to comply with the requirement under the scheduling rule that they explain any wastage of controlled drugs. Providers must now record propofol that remains in the syringe after use.

Read the Anesthesiology News report on propofol scheduling.

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