Continuous Quality Improvement in Anesthesia
Luis Gaitini, Sonia Vaida, Shahar Madgar
Depts. of Anesthesia and of Urology, Bnai-Zion Medical Center, Haifa
Slow continuous quality improvement (SCQI) in anesthesia is a process that allows identification of problems and their causes. Implementing measures to correct them and continuous monitoring to ensure that the problems have been eliminated are necessary. The basic assumption of CQI is that the employees of an organization are competent and working to the best of their abilities. If problems occur they are the consequences of inadequacies in the process rather that in the individual. The CQI program is a dynamic but gradual system that invokes a slower rate of response in comparison with other quality methods, like quality assurance. Spectacular results following a system change are not to be expected an the ideal is slow and continuous improvement.
A SCQI program was adapted by our department in May 1994, according to the recommendations of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Problem identification was based on 65 clinical indicators, reflecting negative events related to anesthesia. Data were collected using a specially designed computer database. 4 events were identified as crossing previously established thresholds (hypertension, hypotension, hypoxia and inadequate nerve block). Statistical process control was used to establish stability of the system and whether negative events were influenced only by the common causes. The causes responsible for these negative events were identified using specific SCQI tools, such as control-charts, cause-effect diagrams and Pareto diagrams. Hypertension and inadequate nerve block were successfully managed. The implementation of corrective measures for the other events that cross the threshold is still in evolution. This program requires considerable dedication on the part of the staff, and it is hoped that it will improve our clinical performance.