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Anaesth Intensive Care. 2016 Jul;44(4):513-6.

A site check prior to regional anaesthesia to prevent wrong-sided blocks.

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Anaesthetic Registrar, Gold Coast University Hospital, Gold Coast, Queensland.
Senior Staff Specialist, Associate Professor, Gold Coast Hospital & Health Services, Gold Coast, Queensland.


This paper describes the implementation of the 'Stop Before You Block' (SB4YB) initiative in an Australian teaching hospital. This process, which began in the UK in 2010, is a pre-procedure pause to confirm the correct side of a regional anaesthetic block. A change in practice was implemented with the formal roll out of a SB4YB educational program. Use of the initiative was then audited over a subsequent three-month period. It was hoped that after implementing the initiative, at least 80% of blocks would have a site check performed. However, despite apparent support for the initiative, uptake was less than expected with only about 57% of blocks having a site check performed. A site check was less frequent if the block was done as an emergency procedure, outside of an operating theatre or by a locum or visiting anaesthetist. Our conclusion from the audit was that education is insufficient to promote a change in this practice. We propose that Stop Before You Block or a block time-out should be performed prior to all unilateral nerve blocks. Success of this initiative requires education, and both cultural and systems changes to occur. We propose that a formal block time-out should become part of the surgical safety checklist and this activity should be endorsed and promoted by anaesthetic professional bodies.


anaesthesia; checklist; local; nerve block; patient care; quality improvement

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