What is anaesthetic death?
“Anaesthetic death” is often defined as the death of a patient who has had an anaesthetic, within 24 hours of the procedure. This is irrespective of the contribution of anaesthesia to the cause of death. Many people disagree with this definition. We illustrate this point by presenting the case of a 5-year old boy who had craniotomy for left fronto-parietal glioma. Anaesthesia per se, was uneventful, but the patient had uncontrollable haemorrhage after excision of the tumour. He lost over 4 litres of blood and was appropriately transfused with blood and fresh frozen plasma. All attempts at resuscitation failed, and the patient died in the intensive care unit, 8 hours after surgery. Can this be classified as anaesthetic death? The case is discussed, with emphasis on what constitutes anaesthetic death and what does not.
Key words: Anaeasthetic death, perioperative mortality, haemorrhage, massive blood transfusion.