Risk management in anesthesia

L. Cabrini, A. Levati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anesthesia is considered a leading discipline in the field of patient safety. Nevertheless, complications still occur and can be devastating. A substantial portion of anesthesia-related adverse events are preventable since risk factors can be detected and eliminated. Risk management (RM) in anesthesia includes preventive and remedial measures to minimize patient anesthesia-related morbidity and mortality. RM involves all aspects of anesthesia care. Classically, the following four steps are needed to prevent critical incidents or to learn from them: (1) detection of problems, (2) assessment, (3) implementation of solutions, and (4) verification of effectiveness. Problems and solutions can be identified into the fields of structures, processes and personnel. Authoritative agencies like the World Health Organization, the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiologists, the Section and Board of Anesthesiology of the European Union of Medical Specialties and the Italian Scientific Society of Anesthesiologists (Società Italiana di Anestesia, Analgesia, Rianimazione e Terapia Intensiva - SIAARTI) have proposed initiatives addressing safety in the operating room. The central role of a well-trained, constantly present anesthesiologist and the usefulness of checklists have been highlighted. Cost cutting and production pressure in medical care are potential threats to safety. A shared knowledge of the best standards of care and of the potential consequences of unscrupulous actions could make the daily management of conflicting interests easier. A correctly applied RM can be a powerful, highly beneficial aid to our practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-643
Number of pages6
JournalMinerva Anestesiologica
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


  • Anesthesia
  • Critical illness
  • Risk management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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