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2022 Mar 18

Anaesth Intensive Care

A retrospective observational study of patient analgesia outcomes when regional anaesthesia procedures are performed by consultants versus supervised trainees.


At teaching hospitals, consultants must provide effective supervision, including appropriate selection of teaching cases, such that the outcomes achieved by trainees are similar to that of consultants. Numerous studies in the surgical literature have compared patient outcomes when surgery is performed by consultant surgeons or surgical trainees but, to our knowledge, none exist in the field of anaesthesia. We aimed to compare analgesia outcomes of regional anaesthesia when performed by supervised trainees versus consultants. We designed a retrospective observational study using registry data. The primary outcome was inadequate analgesia, defined as a numerical rating scale (NRS) for pain >5 reported at any time in the post-anaesthesia care unit (PACU). Secondary outcomes included the maximum pain NRS, pain experienced in the PACU, and the requirement for systemic opioid analgesia in the PACU. Of the 1814 patients analysed, the primary proceduralist was a consultant for 514 (28.3%) patients and a trainee for 1300 (71.7%) patients. All trainees were supervised by an on-site consultant. There were no statistically significant differences between consultants and supervised trainees in terms of the primary outcome (NRS >5 in 24.9% and 24.5% of patients, respectively;  = 0.84) and secondary outcomes. Compared to trainees, consultants had a slightly higher rate of patients with a body mass index >30 kg/m, an American Society of Anesthesiologists Physical Status Classification of 3 or 4, nerve blocks performed under general anaesthesia, paravertebral/neuraxial blocks and blocks with perineural catheter placement. Regional anaesthesia performed by supervised trainees can achieve similar analgesia outcomes to consultant-performed procedures.