Intended for healthcare professionals


Fatal breathing problems are four times as likely in intensive care as in general anaesthesia for surgery

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 30 March 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d2015
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. 1London

Intensive care units should routinely use a capnograph to monitor breathing to significantly reduce numbers of deaths and brain damage, a new report concludes.

The report by the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Difficult Airway Society also found that obese patients are twice as likely to develop serious airway problems while under a general anaesthetic as non-obese patients. Patients with severe obesity (body mass index over 40) are four times as likely to develop such problems.

The prospective study monitored all major complications of airway management that occurred among the 2.9 million patients given a general anaesthetic in the United Kingdom each year and in intensive care units and emergency departments in 2008-9.

The findings show that …

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