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Anesthesiologist Staffing Ratios Linked to Patient Outcomes

Morbidity, mortality of patients undergoing major noncardiac inpatient surgery increased with overlapping coverage by anesthesiologists

FRIDAY, July 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Increasing overlapping coverage by anesthesiologists is associated with increased surgical patient morbidity and mortality, according to a study published online July 20 in JAMA Surgery.

Michael L. Burns, Ph.D., M.D., from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined the association between different levels of anesthesiologist staffing ratios and surgical patient morbidity and mortality. Thenalysis included data from 866,453 adult patients undergoing major noncardiac inpatient surgical procedures (Jan. 1, 2010, to Oct. 31, 2017) at 23 U.S. academic and private hospitals.

The researchers found that increasing anesthesiologist coverage responsibilities was associated with an increase in risk-adjusted surgical patient morbidity and mortality. Compared with when the anesthesiologist was covering more than one but no more than two overlapping operations, patients faced an increase in risk-adjusted mortality and morbidity when the anesthesiologist was covering two to three overlapping operations (adjusted odds ratio, 1.04) and when the anesthesiologist was covering three to four overlapping operations (adjusted odds ratio, 1.15).

“Therefore, the potential effects of staffing ratios in perioperative team models should be considered in clinical coverage efforts,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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