Volume 7, No. 1 • Spring 1992

Office Anesthesia Must Meet OR Standards

Frederick W. Cheney, MD.

To the Editor

Recently the Doctor’s Company, a large professional liability insurer in California and other Western states, asked my advice about guidelines for conscious sedation in the setting of office surgery. The company was concerned with potential liability of plastic and other surgeons administering sedation/analgesia in the course of performing surgery in the office. The company explicitly did not want guidelines for administration of general anesthesia in the office as they considered the ASA Standards for Intraoperative Monitoring as being applicable in such a circumstance. They felt that adherence to the ASA Standards in the office is the responsibility of the anesthesia care provider.

This stance by a major professional liability insurance carrier reinforces the concept that the administration of anesthesia for office procedures should be performed in accordance with the same standards as anesthesia in the hospital setting. I do not know if other professional liability insurance carriers have the same policy, but any anesthesiologist who practices in the office setting should be aware that if they are not adhering to ASA Standards for intraoperative Monitoring, they may be incurring a significant professional liability risk.

Frederick W. Cheney, MD. Chairman, 1992 ASA Committee on Professional Liability Seattle, WA