Anaesthesia care in developed countries involves sophisticated technology and experienced providers. However, advanced machines may be inoperable or fail frequently when placed into the austere medical environment of a developing country. Failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) is a method for engaging local staff in identifying real or potential breakdowns in processes or work systems and to develop strategies to mitigate risks.
Nurse anaesthetists from the two tertiary care hospitals in Freetown, Sierra Leone, participated in three sessions moderated by a human factors specialist and an anaesthesiologist. Sessions were audio recorded, and group discussion graphically mapped by the session facilitator for analysis and commentary. These sessions sought to identify potential barriers to implementing an anaesthesia machine designed for austere medical environments—the universal anaesthesia machine (UAM)—and also engaging local nurse anaesthetists in identifying potential solutions to these barriers.
Participating Sierra Leonean clinicians identified five main categories of failure modes (resource availability, environmental issues, staff knowledge and attitudes, and workload and staffing issues) and four categories of mitigation strategies (resource management plans, engaging and educating stakeholders, peer support for new machine use, and collectively advocating for needed resources).
We identified factors that may limit the impact of a UAM and devised likely effective strategies for mitigating those risks.