Anesthesia Blood Loss

Posted by Clark Venable on 1/18/2006

Anesthesia-related blood loss almost never exceeds surgical blood loss...but it can. I recently had a case where the IV tubing became disconnected from the IV hub during a case. The blood pressure cuff was on the same arm, and the intermittent tourniquet effect of the cuff cycling served to increase venous pressure sufficiently to cause blood to flow backward and out the now disconnected IV.


But wait, there's more. The patient was receiving the medication that kept her asleep through her IV and the disconnect put her at very real risk of waking up or having awareness in the middle of her surgery. This apparently did not happen in this case based on my interview of the patient in the recovery room, but it surely could have.

This misadventure would have been entirely avoided by the use of IV tubing with a locking hub (often called a Leur-Lock connector) connecting the IV tubing to the IV hub. In our case, someone decided the locking connectors were not worth the extra cost and our connections were just slip fit (no lock). How many times should this happen before the equipment is changed?

This has happened many times to my colleagues and I (though usually not with such blood loss), each time we complained, were told it was being looked in to, but kept getting the same connectors. I took the above rather striking photograph to some clinical managers, who agreed we needed to change, and said that they had already ordered the new tubing. Until it arrives, I'm starting IV's myself so that I can use locking connectors.

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