Do It Often, Do It Better: Association Between Pairs of Experienced Subspecialty Anesthesia Caregivers and Postoperative Outcomes. A Retrospective Observational Study

Leif Saager, Kurt Ruetzler, Alparslan Turan, Kamal Maheshwari, Barak Cohen, Jing You, Edward J Mascha, Yuwei Qiu, Ilker Ince, Daniel I Sessler
Anesthesia and Analgesia 2021 January 11

BACKGROUND: Anesthesiologists typically care for patients having a broad range of procedures. Outcomes might be improved when care is provided by caregivers experienced in particular types of surgery. We tested the hypothesis that intraoperative care provided by pairs of anesthesia caregivers having significant experience with a particular type of surgery reduces a composite of in-hospital death and 6 serious complications, including bleeding, cardiac, gastrointestinal, infectious, respiratory, and urinary complications, compared to care provided by pairs of anesthesia caregivers with less experience.

METHODS: We included patients having surgery lasting at least 30 minutes. Using cluster analysis, attending anesthesiologists, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) were identified as experienced or inexperienced caregivers for each type of surgery at the case level. We then compared surgeries for which anesthesia was provided by a pair of experienced caregivers versus a pair of inexperienced caregivers on our composite outcome. We estimated the average relative effect (ie, the exponentiated average log odds ratio) of receiving anesthesia from an experienced versus inexperienced caregiver pair across the 7 components of the composite outcome using a generalized estimating equation (GEE) model to adjust for between-component correlation and with inverse propensity score weighing to adjust for potential confounding from a host of variables.

RESULTS: A total of 8968 patients who received anesthesia care by an experienced pair were compared with 25,361 patients who received care from an inexperienced pair, adjusting for potential confounding. The incidence of composite complications (ie, any component event) was 7.6% (677/8968) for experienced pairs and 12% (2976/25,361) for inexperienced pairs (P < .001). Care by experienced pairs of caregivers was associated with lower odds of the composite outcome with an estimated average relative effect odds ratio across the individual components of 0.61 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.54-0.71), P < .001. Among the 7 components of the primary outcome, experienced pairs of providers had significantly lower estimated odds of bleeding, infection, and mortality.

CONCLUSIONS: Anesthesia care by experienced pairs was associated with fewer bleeding complications, fewer infections, shorter hospitalization, and reduced in-hospital mortality.

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