On July 14 and 15, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) hosted a virtual event, the Anesthesia Quality and Patient Safety Meeting, which brought to light new research on when to administer epidural anesthesia in the OR, an anesthesiologist-led infection prevention program reducing rates of surgical site infections (SSIs), and preventing overinflation of breathing tubes to reduce airway complications after a surgical procedure.
According to three ASA press releases, here are the highlights on each of the above findings that were presented at the meeting:
A research-led project that began in December 2022, when “very few epidural infusions were started in the OR,” showed that starting a patient-controlled epidural anesthesia infusion in the OR instead of the recovery room can speed up pain relief for patients. The project focused on streamlining the process for epidurals placed for major abdominal, chest, urologic, and gynecological procedures, or “other surgeries where postoperative pain is expected to be substantial.” Two months after launching the project, 90% of epidural infusions were started in the OR. The research team surveyed 16 anesthesiologists and 13 nurses about the new workflow and found that:
An anesthesiologist-led infection prevention program successfully reduced the number of SSIs in colorectal patients by 50%, the number of hospital bed days by 578 days (46%), and led to an estimated $540,000 in cost savings between 2021 and 2022, compared to 2020. Prior to the intervention, the infection ratio at UT Southwestern had increased from .74 in 2018 to 3.08 in 2020. In partnership with the facility’s ERAS program, the infection prevention initiative implemented a number of interventions to achieve the above outcomes, including but not limited to:
“A measurement tool [manometers] should be used to reduce overinflation of a device, located on breathing tubes, that protects the patient’s airway during general anesthesia to help prevent [airway] complications such as sore throat,” another quality improvement initiative found. In summary: