Safe Drug Management in Anaesthetic Practice

Published: 01/10/2020

The College and the Association of Anaesthetists have published guidance on the Safe Drug Management in Anaesthetic Practice. This guidance has been endorsed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine and the College of Operating Department Practitioners.

Safe Drug Management in Anaesthetic Practice’ builds on the 2016 guidance ‘Storage of drugs in anaesthetic rooms’, which was created in response to anaesthetists’ concerns about restrictions to their rapid access to emergency drugs occasioned by the implementation of regulations not primarily designed with the emergency management of crises that occur during anaesthesia in mind. Now the guidance has been extended beyond anaesthetic rooms to other areas where anaesthesia is administered, e.g. the Emergency Department and Labour Ward, and takes into account recently published guidance such as the RPS’s revised ‘Professional guidance on the safe and secure handling of medicines’ documents.

Since publication of the 2016 guidance, the College and the Association of Anaesthetists have also received queries on issues relating to the welfare of healthcare professionals in relation to drugs used in anaesthetic practice, in particular from official bodies investigating the deaths of anaesthetists who used drugs to which they gained access at their places of work. This new guidance therefore seeks to include consideration of the safety and wellbeing of healthcare professionals by making recommendations that highlight to anaesthetists the risks relating to ‘drugs of diversion’, i.e. drugs that individuals might seek to appropriate for abuse, self-harm or sale, and that guide development of policies that ensure their safe use.