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A cross-sectional overview of the second 4000 incidents reported to webAIRS, a de-identified web-based anaesthesia incident reporting system in Australia and New Zealand.

  • Gibbs, Neville M1
  • Culwick, Martin D2
  • Endlich, Yasmin3
  • Merry, Alan F4, 5
  • 1 Department of Anaesthesia, 5728Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Nedlands, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 2 Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Brisbane, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 3 Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Adelaide Hospital and Women and Children's Hospital, Adelaide, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 4 Department of Anaesthesiology, Auckland City Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand. , (New Zealand)
  • 5 University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand This article is a copy of a report submitted to the Australian and New Zealand Tripartite Anaesthesia Data Committee (ANZTADC). It is published on behalf of ANZTADC at their request and with their permission. It has not been subject to peer review. , (Australia)
Published Article
Anaesthesia and intensive care
Publication Date
Nov 01, 2021
DOI: 10.1177/0310057X211060846
PMID: 34894746


This cross-sectional overview of the second 4000 incidents reported to webAIRS has findings that are very similar to the previous overview of the first 4000 incidents. The distribution of patient age, body mass index and American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status was similar, as was anaesthetist gender, grade, location and time of day of incidents. About 35% of incidents occurred during non-elective procedures (vs. 33% in the first 4000 incidents). The proportion of incidents in the various main categories was also similar, with respiratory/airway being most common, followed by cardiovascular, medication-related and medical device or equipment-related incidents. Together these categories made up about 78% of all incidents in both overviews. The immediate outcome was comparable with reports of harm in about a quarter of incidents and a similar rate of deaths (4.7% vs. 4.2%). However, the proportion of patients who had received total intravenous anaesthesia was higher (17.6% vs. 7.7%) and the proportion of patients who received combined intravenous and inhalational anaesthesia was lower (52.3% vs. 58.4%), as was the proportion receiving local anaesthesia alone (1.6% vs. 6.7%). There was a small increase in the number of incidents resulting in unplanned admission to a high dependency or intensive care unit (18.1% vs. 13.5%). It is not clear whether these differences represent trends or random observations. About 48% of incidents were considered preventable by the reporters (vs. 52% in the first 4000). These findings support continued emphasis on human and system factors to promote and improve patient safety in anaesthesia care.

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