Tele-anesthesia could improve OR productivity

Communication among anesthesiologists using telecommunications among operating rooms has the potential to increase productivity, a new study published in Anesthesia & Analgesia finds.

In the study, data for 13,368 pages were obtained from recordings in an alphanumeric text paging system at one hospital, and at another hospital, three study authors categorized 898 calls using an internal wireless audio system.

Results showed that at least 45 percent of pages originated from outside the ORs at a facility dubbed "hospital A" and at least 56 percent of calls at another facility dubbed "hospital B." At hospital B, however, requests from ORs for urgent presence of the anesthesiologist were at most 0.2 percent of pages at hospital A, and 1.8 percent of calls at hospital B.

The study concluded that "to use communication tools to increase anesthesia productivity on the day of surgery, their use should include a focus on care coordination outside ORs [e.g., holding area] and among ORs [e.g., at the control desk]."

In a commentary accompanying the research, Patricia Kapur of the University of California Los Angeles said the findings highlight the "large amount of out-of-OR' tasks that supervising anesthesiologists must regularly handle."

Communication with other parts of the hospital are necessary, particularly where other patients are being prepared for surgery. This "must be addressed as part of the conditions if technologically assisted, remote supervision tele-anesthesiology is to be adopted as part of an overall staffing paradigm in the future," Kapur said.

A new study suggests that telepresence of a remote trauma surgeon could be useful and functional in a trauma setting, with the potential to address staffing shortages in rural and urban trauma care during mass casualty or disaster scenarios.

To learn more:
- read the study (subscription required)
- here's the commentary (subscription required)

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