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Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2006 Apr;19(2):177-84.

Cost drivers in anesthesia: manpower, technique and other factors.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.



This article reviews the recent literature on cost drivers in anesthesia with respect to staff, techniques and drug costs, and with special focus on anesthesia workflow in the postanesthesia care unit. Moreover, the costs of post-operative pain management provided by an acute pain service are highlighted.


Staff costs represent the main contributor to anesthesia costs in all studies. Therefore, many studies address the reduction of personnel costs, e.g. by using fast-tracking procedures which allow the patients to bypass the postanesthesia care unit. However, postanesthesia care unit bypassing and replacement of anesthesiologists by certified anesthesia nurses were not able to significantly decrease anesthesia costs. If anesthesiologists are reimbursed by surgically controlled time, this time is the main determinator for anesthesia costs and should be carefully monitored. Regional anesthesia techniques can help to reduce costs in the ambulatory setting because of reduced post-operative side-effects and earlier home readiness of the patients. Low gas flow and modern electroencephalographic monitoring can contribute to decreased drug-related costs. Acute pain services are mainly run by anesthesia staff thus increasing the costs in anesthesia departments. However, an acute pain service can reduce costs of surgical procedures significantly.


Clear definition of the meaning of cost drivers and of criteria which allow assessment of patients' condition, and peri-operative standard operating procedures are warranted to ensure comparability of economic data in anesthesia.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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