Evidence Based Practice and Quality Assurance
Background and Goal of Study: Anaesthetists must continually assess their choices in a cost containment environment (1). To make cost conscious decisions, the cost of each drug and its alternatives must be known but this knowledge may be lacking (2,3). This study examines cost awareness in a UK anaesthetic department.
Materials and Methods: 20 trainees and 30 consultants were asked by questionnaire to estimate the net price of 10 commonly used drugs. Estimated and true costs were compared thus: % difference of correct cost = (estimate - true cost)/true cost × 100.
Data presented as medians and ranges. Estimates for the 2 groups compared with Kruskal Wallis test (p < 0.05 significant).
Results and Discussions: Response rate was 84%. 39% of estimates were within 50% of the true price and 67% within 100%. Costs of some relatively expensive drugs such as sevoflurane were underestimated while less costly drugs like isoflurane were overestimated (see Table). Choice may depend on the perceived cost difference between drugs. Overestimation of the cost of a cheaper drug may then be important, especially if the price of the more expensive drug is at the same time underestimated.
Conclusion(s): Significant errors in cost estimations were observed. Overall this study shows that cost awareness is lacking among anaesthetists in a UK hospital setting.
1 Kapur P. Anes Analg 1994;78:617-618.
2 Bailey C et al. Anaesthesia 1993;48:906-909.
3 Schlunzen L et al. Acta Anaes Scand 1999;43:202-205.