What do patients think of anaesthesia in the UK?

“Turn things around sometimes and look at life from a different perspective.” – Jean Wilson.

Patient reported outcome of adult perioperative anaesthesia in the United Kingdom: a cross-sectional observational study.Br J Anaesth. 2016;117(6):758-766. doi:10.1093/bja/aew381


This was a cross-sectional, multi-centre, observational study assessing patient reported outcomes following anaesthesia in the United Kingdom.


257 hospitals in the National Health Service (97% of eligible organisations) participated in the study. All adults undergoing non-obstetric surgery on either 13th or 14th May 2014, under general anaesthesia, regional anaesthesia or sedation were eligible to take part. Patient reported outcomes were assessed using questionnaires completed within 24hrs following surgery. The patient response rate was high (93%) – a total of 15,040 cases were analysed.


35% of patients reported severe discomfort in at least one domain. The most prevalent symptoms were thirst (18.5%), pain at surgical site (11%), and drowsiness (10%). Patients most commonly reported anxiety to be the worst thing about their operation (33%), followed by pain (16.7%).

Despite this, patient satisfaction levels were high with only 5.7% being dissatisfied with any aspect of their care. There was a striking disconnect between burden of symptoms and degree of satisfaction, demonstrating the importance of measuring both with assessing outcomes.

Severe pain, drowsiness, sore throat and post-operative nausea & vomiting predicted dissatisfaction with anaesthetic services.


This study provides a comprehensive national snapshot of patient reported outcomes following anaesthetic care in the UK. It identifies the most common areas of patient discomfort and dissatisfaction, and thus provides a basis for anaesthetic departments to look at ways of improving their services to enhance the overall patient experience.

Summary by Dr Vishal Venkat Raman




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