Standards in Anaesthetic Practice

  • A. R. Aitkenhead


A “standard” is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “a quality or measure serving as a basis or example or principle to which others conform or should conform or by which the quality of others is judged”, or “the degree of excellence required for a particular purpose”. Many national and international bodies have published recommendations for standards of care in a wide variety of areas of anaesthetic practice, with the intention of improving safety for patients, and eliminating the unacceptable practices of the worst anaesthetists. Not all of the published standards are evidence-based, some are illogical, and others become outdated. However, in many instances, the published “standards” come to be regarded both by the “authorities” within anaesthesia, and by lawyers, as mandatory instructions. This has led to situations in which anaesthetists have been threatened with removal of their licence to practise medicine, even though their practice conformed to that which would be regarded as acceptable by the majority of their peers.


Critical Incident Malignant Hyperthermia General Medical Council Anaesthetic Practice National Body 
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    Greenbaum R, Paterson IG (1996) Safety of equipment. Baillière’s Clinical Anaesthesiology: International Practice and Research 10:317–331Google Scholar
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    Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (1998) Risk management. LondonGoogle Scholar
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    Royal College of Anaesthetists and Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (1998) Good practice: a guide for departments of anaesthesia. LondonGoogle Scholar
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    Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (1997) Checklist for anaesthetic apparatus 2. LondonGoogle Scholar
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    General Medical Council (1998) Good medical practice; Guidance from the general medical council. LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. R. Aitkenhead
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Anaesthesia, Queen’s Medical CentreUniversity HospitalNottinghamUK

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