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BACKGROUND: Accidental awareness during general anaesthesia (AAGA) with recall is a potentially distressing complication of general anaesthesia that can lead to psychological harm. The 5th National Audit Project (NAP5) was designed to investigate the reported incidence, predisposing factors, causality, and impact of accidental awareness. METHODS: A nationwide network of local co-ordinators across all the UK and Irish public hospitals reported all new patient reports of accidental awareness to a central database, using a system of monthly anonymized reporting over a calendar year. The database collected the details of the reported event, anaesthetic and surgical technique, and any sequelae. These reports were categorized into main types by a multidisciplinary panel, using a formalized process of analysis. RESULTS: The main categories of accidental awareness were: certain or probable; possible; during sedation; on or from the intensive care unit; could not be determined; unlikely; drug errors; and statement only. The degree of evidence to support the categorization was also defined for each report. Patient experience and sequelae were categorized using current tools or modifications of such. CONCLUSIONS: The NAP5 methodology may be used to assess new reports of AAGA in a standardized manner, especially for the development of an ongoing database of case reporting. This paper is a shortened version describing the protocols, methods, and data analysis from NAP5--the full report can be found at

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Anaesth

Publication Date





540 - 548


AAGA, awareness, consciousness, mechanisms, Anesthesia, General, Cognition, Data Collection, Data Interpretation, Statistical, Databases, Factual, Evidence-Based Medicine, Health Care Surveys, Heart Arrest, Humans, Intraoperative Awareness, Intraoperative Complications, Ireland, Medical Errors, Neuromuscular Blockade, Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic, Treatment Outcome, United Kingdom