eISSN: 1731-2531
ISSN: 1642-5758
Anaesthesiology Intensive Therapy
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vol. 55
Original paper

Optimizing neuromuscular blockade management for improving patient safety and peri-operative outcomes: a pilot phase of a quality improvement initiative

Selene Martinez Perez
Juan C. Segura-Salgero
Marcin Wąsowicz
Carlos A. Ibarra-Moreno

Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Toronto General Hospital, University of Toronto, Canada
Anaesthesiol Intensive Ther 2023; 55, 3: 196–204
Online publish date: 2023/08/31
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Although quantitative monitoring of neuromuscular blockade (NMB) is recommended, it is not routinely used in daily practice. The optimizing NMB management to improve patient safety and perioperative outcomes (OBISPO) quality improvement (QI) initiative intends to address this issue and change clinicians’ behaviors.

Material and methods:
A pilot phase of the prospective QI intervention was conducted. The primary objective was implement clinical practice change that emphasizes improving NMB monitoring in patients undergoing elective cardiac surgery who are eligible for fast-track extubation between February 2021 and December 2021. The secondary objective was to reduce the train-of-four ratio (TOFR) < 0.9 incidence before tracheal extubation to less than 20%. The intervention included educational sessions for teams.

A total of 859 patients underwent elective cardiac surgery, 40% were eligible for fast-track extubation. From our cohort of fast-track cardiac cases, 69% had reported TOFR; 47% of them had residual paralysis (TOFR < 0.9) on arrival to PACU, 22% persisted with residual paralysis after extubation, and 27% were extubated without monitoring. The survey identified cognitive biases, knowledge gaps, unfamiliarity, and lack of trust in quantitative monitoring devices. Workflow disruptions imposed by COVID and changes in NMB monitoring devices have negatively affected our initiative.

Our study showed that changes in clinician behavior are among the most challenging issues in perioperative medicine. Continuous teaching and QI initiatives, focused on quantitative NMB monitors and adequate reversal agent use, are mandatory to improve perioperative outcomes. Therefore, new proposals are required to promote changes in current practices.


quality improvement, patient safety, residual neuromuscular blockade, quantitative NMB monitor, fast-track cardiac surgery

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