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Anesthesia Complications Fall By More Than Half, Study

Update Date: Oct 13, 2014 11:47 AM EDT

Anesthesia complications in United States have dropped by more than half, but the overall death rate has remained the same, according to a new study. 

Researchers analyzed data from more than 3.2 million cases of anesthesia use between 2010 and 2013. They found the rate of complications decreased from 11.8 percent to 4.8 percent. 

According to the findings, the most common minor complication was nausea and vomiting while the most common major complication was medication error. 

"Our goal was to determine the nature and incidence of surgical complications at the national level and to identify their risk factors," study author Dr. Jeana Havidich, an associate professor of anesthesiology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, said in an ASA news release.

"Previous studies examined adverse events for specific surgical procedures, types of anesthesia or patient populations. This is the first time we've been able to look at such a large amount of data on a national level," Havidich said.

The death rate remained three deaths per 10,000 surgeries/procedures involving anesthesia. 

The study also found that complication rates were not higher among patients who had evening or holiday procedures. 

The study was presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) annual meeting in New Orleans.

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