Ether Resources for Anesthesia Research and Education

Resident Case Presentation and
Anesthetic Planning Outline


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Cliff Schmiesing, M.D.

July 17, 2012


The following is an outline and general information I hope will be helpful to you in organizing your case presentations for discussion with your attending. It is more detailed than will be appropriate in some instances, and less detailed than appropriate for complex cases.


General comments:


  1. Try not to present your case while by reading down the Epic screen. If it is a bigger case and/or you are green to that service, take the time to write out or in some way organize your presentation. Avoid doing it on the fly until you are more experienced and very comfortable with the patient and plan.
  2. Call before 9 PM. If you are here late, try to arrange to make this call before you leave to save you precious evening time. Most attendings will gladly support this especially when you are here late and especially when you are not on call and here late. Text paging your contact info is helpful as both you and the attending may be out of the hospital and out and about as well.
  3. Read the Jaffe text to understand the key elements of a surgical procedure and anesthetic. Usually there are just a few key things that will be of special concern. Read a little bit about the unique aspects of your case — come in ‘armed and dangerous’. It is a useful way to advance your knowledge base one surgery and one patient at a time. Plus, the memory is stickier when fear of your attending and the case are both at work.
  4. Force yourself to work your way through to the end of this outline. Typically you will find yourself stalling after presenting the history. Think through all elements of the anesthetic from start to finish.
  5. Realize that different attendings will have a different style of discussing the next day’s cases (not to mention different ways of doing the cases…). Roll with the punches as best you can and look on the positive side—you will learn multiple ways to do the same thing. Eventually you can choose how you think it is best done.
  6. Learn how to access Epic offsite—you can do a lot from home. However, there are times, not all that often, that you will need to come in and see the patient.



ID:            Always (almost anyway…) give the age and sex of the patient, what procedure they are scheduled for, as well the surgeon(s), and mention anticipated duration of the case if long, atypical, or unpredictable. Consider mentioning the start time and room number, especially if different that usual, i.e., late or early start, cath lab etc.


PSHX:      Briefly review relevant prior surgeries, type of anesthesia used, and complications or other relevant points regarding past anesthetic or surgical experiences. Include the common (PONV) as well as catastrophic (failed intubation, anaphylaxis, etc).


PMHX:     Discuss relevant past medical history, preferably in order of severity, especially cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions. Each disease process or condition should be discussed in terms of its severity, duration, treatment, and relevant work up such as recent dobutamine stress echo and the results. I like to discuss pertinent substance abuse including alcohol and tobacco here. If a patient only drinks occasionally and I do not feel this is pertinent, then I do not mention it. This is a style point to some extent, but also encourages you to have decided ahead of time what is relevant, and to detail all medical conditions at one time, rather than spread out in your presentation. For the same reason, anything pertinent in the review of systems such as serious reflux or snoring I like to mention if the PMHX. In my opinion, anything pertinent in ROS should be detailed in the PMHx.


MEDS:     Discuss relevant medications, and doses here, as well as allergies and ADR’s. Over-the-counter medications such as NSAIDS and herbal treatments may be very relevant. If you are unfamiliar with a medication — look it up. This is how you will keep up to date on the continual roll out of new medications.


HABITS:  I like to discuss relevant habits in the PMHX, but this is a perfectly OK time to discuss them here.


ET:           If someone has significant cardiac or pulmonary disease, or risk factors you are concerned about I usually mention exercise tolerance/functional capacity in the PMH. If they do not, then one can discuss it here. If they have a good or excellent level of fitness if often simply state that the patient is “fit” or even “very fit”.  You can get at ET many ways by asking about exercise, activities of daily living (ADL’s) and work they do at home and on the job.


ROS:        Again, if anything is significant here I think it is best discussed in the PMHX.



VS: I always mention vital signs or at least that they were normal. I like to know the height and weight or better yet, the BMI of a patient and oxygen saturation if abnormal. Later on in your residency you might simply state the exam was normal and the airway exam “reassuring” if indeed it was.


AIRWAY: I always mention the airway class, as well as any other relevant features such as TMD, or oral opening, distorted anatomy (prior XRT, tumor, etc).


LUNGS: I usually mention the lung exam. You can simply state “Heart and lungs were normal.”


HEART: I usually mention the heart exam. See above.


ABDOMEN: I usually then only mention other pertinent or abnormal features of the exam such as poor IV access, scoliosis, or ascites, etc.


DATA:     Discuss all abnormal or unexpected lab data not already discussed in the PMHX. If all the data is normal, you can simply say, for example, "The ECG and blood studies were normal." without detailing each value.




            This is the most important part of the presentation, and one frequently not given enough attention or forethought, especially when beginning residency. There are many ways to approach this part. At a minimum, be prepared to summarize relevant medical conditions and their treatment. For example, if someone has stable angina, you might say “The patient has had stable angina for 8 years. He has an excellent exercise tolerance, a negative stress echo, and is already on a beta blocker." Assign an ASA status. Develop and then discuss your anesthetic plan taking in to account the patient’s medical conditions, past anesthetic experiences, and the surgical procedure including possible complications. In the beginning of your residency your plan, at a minimum, should include consideration of premedication, intraoperative monitoring, use of regional techniques if appropriate, IV access and fluids, induction, maintenance, emergence if GA is used, and postoperative issues such as destination (home, ICU, etc,) and pain control. Consider patient preferences and wishes when appropriate, which is almost always (JW patients and blood products, really concerned about prior PONV, etc). One good rule of thumb is to give to your patients the anesthetic you would want for yourself or a loved one undergoing the same procedure. This may not be clear to you yet, but will be over time.  Another point to share: the practice of anesthesia will quickly become routine for you but for your patients, especially those confronting a life-altering surgery or diagnosis, it never ever will. 


            Please feel free to discuss this further with me as well your other attendings. Much of this represents my opinion, some represents “The Stanford Way”, and some represents what I believe is good medical, anesthetic, and educational practice. Your attendings will also have useful input about case presentations. Let’s face it, you will be doing a lot of presentations over the phone the night before your cases during the next three years. It pays to be able to do it efficiently and well.  It is said you only get one chance to make a good first impression. The evening call to your attending is just this sort of opportunity, but more importantly, it will frame how you prepare for your cases the next day and serves as the starting point for your learning.



Elements of Anesthetic Plan:


  1. Patient summary relevant to anesthesia and surgery
    1. Pre-existing medical conditions understood and “optimized” for anticipated surgery and anesthetic
      1. History and physical examination completed and documented.
      2. Appropriate preoperative testing ordered and/or reviewed.
      3. Outside consults reviewed and integrated appropriately into your plan.
    2. Appropriate medication and substance “adjustments” (alcohol, etc) made
    3. Plan understood and discussed with patient
    4. I often use the phrase “The patient is as good as they can get and that is good enough for the upcoming surgery”
  2. Preoperative planning:
    1. Monitoring
    2. Positioning
    3. Lines/IV access/blood products
    4. Postop destination and care transition issues
  3. Pre-induction
    1. Premedication for anxiolysis
    2. Control of blood pressure, blood sugar, etc
  4. Induction/Airway management
    1. Meds:
      1. Hypnotic/induction agents
      2. Narcotics
      3. Muscle relaxant
      4. Vasoactive agents
    2. Airway:
      1. Ventilation
      2. Intubation
        1. Consider having a plan A and a plan B (sometimes even and even C and D)
  5. Maintenance:
    1. Medications
    2. Fluids
    3. Temperature management
    4. Anticipate key surgical events: hypothermia, bleeding, anticoagulation, tourniquet use, positioning, redosing antibiotics, etc.
    5. Muscle relaxation and when it will be needed and not needed.
    6. Use of monitoring: ABG’s, EEG, CVP, UOP, TEE
    7. Intra as well as planning for postop pain managemen
  6. Emergence:
    1. Timing
    2. Analgesia
    3. Hemodynamic management
    4. Destination and transitioning of care
    5. Airway
  7. Postoperative:
    1. Monitoring
    2. Analgesia
    3. PONV
    4. Hemodynamics
    5. Diagnostics
    6. Transfer of Care/communication
    7. Follow up



  1. In Chart Review:
    • Notes/Trans tab
      1. Consider reading surgical note to understand surgical issues and plan. Use preconfigured filters for H&P, consults.
      2. Letters tab often has nice summaries
      3. Review prior Anesthesia notes for complicated patient
    • Labs and Cards Section: review labs and cardiac studies. Lab section will show blood orders (T & S, T & C, etc). Can also find these results in left hand Results Review Menu.
    • Media: Filter for prior Anesthesia Records when available, especially meds given and airway information. Lot of juicy documents live in Media tab such as PFT’s, outside studies, clearances, etc.
  2. Patient Summary section (top left tab) contains lots of useful summary reports. A useful one is the “Cancer Center Report” which typically has the vital signs and pertinent recent labs in one report.
  3. Encounter tab in Chart Review is a good place to see past and future appointments, find consultant visits and reports, and to review old hospitalizations that are listed as a unique “encounter”.
  4. PTA” meds are the “Prior to Admit” medications. For inpatients go to the Patient Summary and MedHx reports or look in Chart Review in Meds tab.


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