Importance Handovers of anesthesia care from one anesthesiologist to another is an important intraoperative event. Despite its association with adverse events after noncardiac surgery, its impact in the context of cardiac surgery remains unclear.
Objective To compare the outcomes of patients who were exposed to anesthesia handover vs those who were unexposed to anesthesia handover during cardiac surgery.
Design, Setting, and Participants This retrospective cohort study in Ontario, Canada, included Ontario residents who were 18 years or older and had undergone coronary artery bypass grafting or aortic, mitral, tricuspid valve, or thoracic aorta surgical procedures between 2008 and 2019. Exclusion criteria were non-Ontario residency status and other concomitant procedures. Statistical analysis was conducted from April 2021 to June 2021, and data collection occurred between November 2020 to January 2021.
Exposures Complete handover of anesthesia care, where the case is completed by the replacement anesthesiologist.
Main Outcomes and Measures The coprimary outcomes were mortality within 30 days and 1 year after surgery. Secondary outcomes were patient-defined adverse cardiac and noncardiac events (PACE), intensive care unit (ICU), and hospital lengths of stay (LOS). Inverse probability of treatment weighting based on the propensity score was used to estimate adjusted effect measures. Mortality was assessed using a Cox proportional hazard model, PACE using a cause-specific hazard model with death as a competing risk, and LOS using Poisson regression.
Results Of the 102 156 patients in the cohort, 25 207 (24.7%) were women; the mean (SD) age was 66.4 (10.8) years; and 72 843 of surgical procedures (71.3%) were performed in teaching hospitals. Handover occurred in 1926 patients (1.9%) and was associated with higher risks of 30-day mortality (hazard ratio [HR], 1.89; 95% CI, 1.41-2.54) and 1-year mortality (HR, 1.66; 95% CI, 1.31-2.12), as well as longer ICU (risk ratio [RR], 1.43; 95% CI, 1.22-1.68) and hospital (RR, 1.17; 95% CI, 1.06-1.28) LOS. There was no statistically significant association between handover and PACE (30 days: HR 1.09; 95% CI, 0.79-1.49; 1 year: HR 0.89; 95% CI, 0.70-1.13).
Conclusions and Relevance Handover of anesthesia care during cardiac surgical procedures was associated with higher 30-day and 1-year mortality rates and increased health care resource use. Further research is needed to evaluate and systematically improve the handover process qualitatively.