Volume 2, No. 1 • Spring 1987

Drager Equipment Safety Book Available Free

The SAFETY GUIDELINES FOR ANESTHESIA EQUIPMENT are aimed towards improving the safe use of anesthesia equipment. They are not a substitute for an operator’s manual or instruction manual and, additionally, they do not cover all of the numerous safety aspects of anesthesia equipment. Examples of potential hazards are provided.

It is the objective of this booklet to discuss possible hazards related to anesthesia equipment and to recommend means for preventing accidents. It is one of the basic considerations in this respect that anesthesia systems and their components are man-made and, therefore, subject to possible malfunction. It is, further, understood that the operation of the equipment may be subject to human error by the operator.

Anesthesia equipment 1 5 years ago may have contained fewer than IO controls and possibly the same number of indicators. Anesthesia systems today could contain between 50 and 100 different controls, up to 50 displays and indicators, and more than 20 different alarm functions. This extremely complex system is comparable to the instrumentation of the flight deck of an aircraft.

The major causes for patient injury are categorized in the text of the booklet as follows:

* Insufficient oxygen supply to the brain

* Insufficient carbon dioxide removal

* Excessive anesthetic concentration

* Trauma to the lungs caused by excessive pressure

* Foreign matter injuring the airway

It is thought that the discussion and analysis of the scenario leading to hazardous situations will increase operator awareness and thus decrease the number of critical incidents.

The monitoring of equipment performance, patient condition and operator action as a means to reveal a hazardous situation has been widely recognized. Special consideration has therefore been given to the performance and performance limitations of the various monitors utilized with anesthesia equipment. The evaluation of the safety potential of the various monitors is summarized in a matrix where monitor performance is correlated with the causes for patient injury.

The very fact that critical incidents are rare will often find an operator unprepared for action when an alarm message is annunciation. An operator action in response to an alarm menage must be prompt and organized. The period of time between alarm annunciation and beginning of patient injury must be utilized to identify the source of the problem, to correct the problem and to reestablish normal and safe conditions. Organized action of the operator is essential to performing this task in the limited time available. A final section of the booklet is therefore devoted to recommending certain sequences of action after an alarm message has been generated.

Safety Guidelines for Anesthesia Equipment is available on a complimentary basis from your local North American Drager distributor or from North American Drager directly: (North American Drager, 148 B Quarry Road, Telford, PA 18969, Attn: Literature Dept.).