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Purpose of review: The demand for anesthesia services is increasing due to more complex procedures being performed outside the operating room. We reviewed the literature and closed malpractice claims in the American Society of Anesthesiologists' Closed Claims database to assess liability and injury associated with anesthesia for procedures outside the operating room (nonoperating-room anesthesia, n = 24) compared with intra-operative surgical anesthesia (operating room, n = 1927) claims.

Recent findings: A higher proportion of patients in nonoperating-room anesthesia claims underwent monitored anesthesia care (58 vs. 6%, P < 0.001) and were at the extremes of age (50 vs. 19%, P = 0.003) than in operating room claims. Half of the nonoperating-room anesthesia claims occurred in the gastrointestinal suite. Inadequate oxygenation/ventilation was the most common specific damaging event in nonoperating-room anesthesia claims (33 vs. 2% in operating room claims, P < 0.001). The proportion of death was increased in nonoperating-room anesthesia claims (54 vs. 24%, P = 0.003). Nonoperating-room anesthesia claims were more often judged as having substandard care (P = 0.003) and being preventable by better monitoring (P = 0.007).

Summary: Nonoperating-room anesthesia claims had a higher severity of injury and more substandard care than operating room claims. Inadequate oxygenation/ventilation was the most common mechanism of injury. Maintenance of minimum monitoring standards and airway management training is required for staff involved in patient sedation.

(C) 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.