Influence of supervision ratios by anesthesiologists on first-case starts and critical portions of anesthetics

Richard H. Epstein, Franklin Dexter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background: Anesthesia groups may wish to decrease the supervision ratio for nontrainee providers. Because hospitals offer many first-case starts and focus on starting these cases on time, the number of anesthesiologists needed is sensitive to this ratio. The number of operating rooms that an anesthesiologist can supervise concurrently is determined by the probability of multiple simultaneous critical portions of cases (i.e., requiring presence) and the availability of cross-coverage. A simulation study showed peak occurrence of critical portions during first cases, and frequent supervision lapses. These predictions were tested using real data from an anesthesia information management system. Methods: The timing and duration of critical portions of cases were determined from 1 yr of data at a tertiary care hospital. The percentages of days with at least one supervision lapse occurring at supervision ratios between 1:1 and 1:3 were determined. Results: Even at a supervision ratio of 1:2, lapses occurred on 35% of days (lower 95% confidence limit = 30%). The peak incidence occurred before 8:00 AM, P<0.0001 for the hypothesis that most (i.e.,>50%) lapses occurred before this time. The average time from operating room entry until ready for prepping and draping (i.e., anesthesia release time) during first case starts was 22.2 min (95% confidence interval 21.8-22.8 min). Conclusions: Decreasing the supervision ratio from 1:2 to 1:3 has a large effect on supervision lapses during first-case starts. To mitigate such lapses, either staggered starts or additional anesthesiologists working at the start of the day would be required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)683-691
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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