Intraoperative hypotension is common and associated with organ injury and death, although randomized data showing a causal relationship remain sparse. A risk-adjusted measure of intraoperative hypotension may therefore contribute to quality improvement efforts.
The measure we developed defines hypotension as a mean arterial pressure <65 mm Hg sustained for at least 15 cumulative minutes. Comparisons are based on whether clinicians have more or fewer cases of hypotension than expected over 12 months, given their patient mix. The measure was developed and evaluated with data from 225,389 surgeries in 5 hospitals. We assessed discrimination and calibration of the risk adjustment model, then calculated the distribution of clinician-level measure scores, and finally estimated the signal-to-noise reliability and predictive validity of the measure.
The risk adjustment model showed acceptable calibration and discrimination (area under the curve was 0.72 and 0.73 in different validation samples). Clinician-level, risk-adjusted scores varied widely, and 36% of clinicians had significantly more cases of intraoperative hypotension than predicted. Clinician-level score distributions differed across hospitals, indicating substantial hospital-level variation. The mean signal-to-noise reliability estimate was 0.87 among all clinicians and 0.94 among clinicians with >30 cases during the 12-month measurement period. Kidney injury and in-hospital mortality were most common in patients whose anesthesia providers had worse scores. However, a sensitivity analysis in 1 hospital showed that score distributions differed markedly between anesthesiology fellows and attending anesthesiologists or certified registered nurse anesthetists; score distributions also varied as a function of the fraction of cases that were inpatients.
Intraoperative hypotension was common and was associated with acute kidney injury and in-hospital mortality. There were substantial variations in clinician-level scores, and the measure score distribution suggests that there may be opportunity to reduce hypotension which may improve patient safety and outcomes. However, sensitivity analyses suggest that some portion of the variation results from limitations of risk adjustment. Future versions of the measure should risk adjust for important patient and procedural factors including comorbidities and surgical complexity, although this will require more consistent structured data capture in anesthesia information management systems. Including structured data on additional risk factors may improve hypotension risk prediction which is integral to the measure’s validity.