Anaesthesia chapter from Saving mothers' lives; reviewing maternal deaths to make pregnancy safer.

Griselda Cooper, JH McClure

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    76 Citations (Scopus)


    This chapter concerning maternal mortality due to anaesthesia, reprinted with permission from Saving Mothers' Lives, is the 18th in a series of reports within the Confidential Enquiries into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) in the UK. In the years 2003-05 there were six women who died from problems directly related to anaesthesia, which is the same as the 2000-02 triennium. Obesity was a factor in four of these women who died. Two of these deaths were in women in early pregnancy, who received general anaesthesia for gynaecological surgery by inexperienced anaesthetists who failed to manage the airway and ventilation adequately. When trainee anaesthetists are relatively inexperienced their consultants must know the limits of their competence and when close supervision and help may be needed. One death was due to bupivacaine toxicity due to a drug administration error when a bag of dilute local anaesthetic was thought to be intravenous fluid. In a further 31 cases poor perioperative management may have contributed to death. Obesity was again a relevant factor. Other cases could be categorized into poor recognition of women being sick and poor clinical management of haemorrhage, sepsis and of pre-eclampsia. Early warning scores of vital signs may help identify the mother who is seriously ill. Learning points are highlighted in relation to the clinical management of these obstetric complications.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)17-22
    Number of pages6
    JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


    • complications
    • toxicity
    • early warning scores
    • anaesthetic techniques
    • anaesthesia
    • regional
    • obstetric
    • local anaesthetics
    • general
    • epidural


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