To review anesthesia practice patterns associated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in the UK.
A 12-item questionnaire survey on the practice of ECT anesthesia was sent to all units in the UK identified as providing ECT services.
One hundred thirty active ECT units were identified. Sixty-six (51%) responded. Forty-five percent of respondents worked in units located within acute hospital boundaries and 53% outside acute hospital boundaries. Forty-seven percent of respondents were associated with units providing consultant anesthetic cover for 75-100% of ECT sessions. Twenty-seven percent of the units did not use capnography, 17% did not use continuous electrocardiography, and 16% did not use noninvasive blood pressure monitoring.
Results were entirely from respondents. No practices were directly observed.
Although there is apparent widespread recognition of ECT Accreditation Service guidelines, compliance with recommended standards is variable. Given the typically high comorbidity of ECT patients, and indications of elevated anesthetic risk from non-UK studies, this has important implications for the safety of ECT anesthesia in the UK.