Postoperative Analgesia Following Sciatic Nerve Blockade Administered by Nurse Anesthetists Supervised by Regional Anesthesia Faculty in an Academic Hospital
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Introduction: Assessment of expertise in regional anesthesia techniques is traditionally based upon quota fulfillment of procedures during training. Validation of practitioner proficiency in performing procedures in surgical specialties has moved from simple measurement of technical skills to evaluation of global patient outcomes. Complete absence of pain as a result of nerve blockade is the most important clinical endpoint but patient, technical and procedural factors influence results. The purpose of this study was to measure the postoperative pain scores and associated analgesic medication requirements for patients administered sciatic nerve blockade by nurse anesthetists and determine patient or procedural factors that influenced this outcome. Methods: Either nerve stimulator or ultrasound guided sciatic nerve blockade was administered by nurse anesthetists under the supervision of regional anesthesia faculty. Patient demographic data that was collected included gender, body mass index, surgical procedure, and pre-existing chronic pain with associated opioid use. Patient self-reported pain scores and opioid analgesic dosages in the preoperative, intraoperative, immediate postoperative and 24 hour post procedure intervals were recorded. Results: 22 nurse anesthetists administered sciatic nerve blockade to 48 patients during a 36 month interval. Transition from a nerve stimulator to ultrasound guided sciatic nerve block technique resulted in lower mean pain scores. Patients reporting chronic opioid use were observed to have elevated perioperative opioid analgesic requirements and pain scores compared to opioid naïve patients. Conclusion: Effective analgesia is a prime measure for assessing expertise in regional anesthesia and continuous evaluation of this outcome in everyday practice is proposed.