To the Editor
Please find here some comments to the Belgian Standards for Patient Safety in Anesthesia, which were published at the beginning of 1990.
We have fixed a “deadline”: 01.01.1995. At that date compliance with the standards should be effective. At the moment we are not yet well equipped. However, we point out openly the final goal, although this has not yet been made. We are perfectly aware that this can be medico-legally dangerous.
In Belgium, in most hospitals, the person who has power on budgets is the manager, not physicians. The manager also collects fees on behalf of physicians (this is the law). Anesthesiologists are then requested, by the standards, to determine precisely what do they need to comply with the standards and they are strongly advised to present their needs to the manager. In case of an accident which could have been avoided by equipment turned down by the manager, this will be definitely involved in the case. The argument is already taken seriously by the managers in our country.
The second part of the standards, “Safety recommendations for the practice of anesthesia,” strongly reminds anesthesiologists of their basic duties for the patient safety in anesthesia.
So far so good ! Positive results are already numerous and they come from anesthesiologists and managers all around the country. The State authorities are also very sympathetic to our request for more patient safety in anesthesia.
Thank you very much indeed for the attention you pay to the Belgian way to increase patient safety in anesthesia.
Professor Bernard Gibomont, Brussels Belgium