Difficulties with airway management during induction of general anesthesia may be preventable by routine preoperative airway evaluation and the implementation of reliable in-hospital difficult airway (DA) information systems. Routine preoperative airway evaluation in all patients requiring anesthetic care for identifying DAs was first advocated by the American Society of Anesthesiologists task force (1) and recently again by the Italian expert working group (17).
The results of a survey questionnaire in regard to documentation, dissemination, and communication of DA information, including all anesthesia departments in Austria (15), were considered by our working group to formulate these recommendations. We studied published guidelines and recommendations for the management of the DA and reviewed the current literature with emphasis on the identification of the presence of a DA and the dissemination and communication of this information. Based on these reviews and available evidence, we generated these recomendations in order to assist the Austrian anesthesia community in formulating departmental directives. The nationwide implementation of preoperative airway evaluation for all patients requiring anesthetic care and reliable in-hospital DA information systems may improve patient care and prevent adverse outcomes associated with DA management. Furthermore, the reliable dissemmination and communication of the experienced DA may improve future patient care.
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