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J Clin Anesth. 1994 Sep-Oct;6(5):388-99.

Practical methods of cost containment in anesthesia and surgery.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Wichita 67214.


With the increasing focus of national attention on health care and health care costs, anesthesiologists, along with all other medical specialists, must become more cost conscious in their practice behaviors. This review describes the current concerns about health care in the United States, including a discussion of some of the forces causing the increase in health care spending. The role of anesthesiology in the increase in health care costs is discussed. Practical methods for controlling anesthesia costs are outlined, including reducing preoperative testing, decreasing blood product use, and employing more regional and local anesthetic techniques. Several ideas for reducing the costs of anesthetic gases and drugs, including low-flow anesthesia and less expensive alternative drugs, are presented. The final section describes the changes in anesthesia drug use that occurred from 1992 to 1993 at one health care center (St. Francis Regional Medical Center, Wichita, KS, which is associated with the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita). These changes resulted in a 13% reduction in anesthesia drug costs, which amounted to a savings of $127,472. The largest decreases were in anesthetic gases (16%), resulting from an increase in the use of low-flow techniques, and in muscle relaxants (26%), resulting from a switch to older lower-cost drugs.

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