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Saudi J Anaesth. 2019 Jul-Sep;13(3):203-207. doi: 10.4103/sja.SJA_706_18.

Cost drain of anesthesia emergency drugs in a quaternary care hospital.

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King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.



Anesthesiologists draw up a selection of drugs for emergency use at the start of their list; unused drugs are discarded at the end of the list, to prevent contamination and spread of infections. We audited the practice in our department to evaluate the scale and cost impact of anesthesia emergency drugs wastage.

Subjects and Methods:

A questionnaire was randomly given to anesthesiologists in our department, working in some of the operating rooms in our main floor, every morning over 7 working days. Completed forms were collected at the end of respective lists.


A total of 93 completed forms were returned. Ephedrine (96%) and phenyepherine (95%) were the most frequently drawn drugs; atropine (96%) and suxamthonium (92%) were the most frequently discarded drugs. Phenylepherine was the single most expensive item wasted, representing 160% of the cost of all other drugs wasted together, and the price of discarded ephedrine and phenylephrine together represented 3/4th of the total wastage. Some practices carried room for rationalization, such as drawing up of atropine and glycopyrolate simultaneously, of both the vasopressors in patients unsuspected for developing significant hypotension, or of suxamethonium in a patient planned to be intubated and postoperative ventilation.


Significant savings may be realized through switching to prefilled syringes, making protocols available for rational use of emergency drugs, and safe pooling of expensive drugs between adjacent operating rooms, in an anesthesia department.


Cost; emergency drugs; wastage

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