Join Now

Anaesthesia Safety


The use of Anaesthesia is safer than it has ever been and regarded as one of the safest medical interventions. However, major complications can still occur, including the risk of dying. Statistically, the chance of mortality during an operation depends on the patient’s age and health.

Complications are more prevalent in the very young and elderly and increase with obesity and smoking.  However, for a fit patient under 60 years of age, the chances of dying due to an anaesthetic complication is approximately 1 in 1,000,000. Mortality statistics for those undergoing anaesthesia over the age of 60 can be higher depending on co-existing conditions.


Other very rare occurrences from anaesthetic complications include heart attack, stroke, major nerve damage, brain dysfunction, organ failure, allergic reaction and reawakening during a procedure.

Patients are given information prior to surgery by the anaesthetist when the patient is required to either interview, fill in a questionnaire, or attend a pre-admission clinic. As part of the NZSA’s commitment to Informed Consent, the Society produces the information leaflet, Your Anaesthetic, that may be given to patients by the hospital before a medical procedure about the risks associated with anaesthesia.

Anaesthesia affiliated organisations

Malignant Hyperthermia 

Malignant hyperthermia is a severe reaction to certain drugs used for anaesthesia. This severe reaction typically includes a dangerously high body temperature, rigid muscles or spasms, a rapid heart rate, and other symptoms. This video, made by NZSA, provides information on diagnosis and management of malignant hyperthermia crisis and subsequent care of malignant hyperthermia susceptible people and their relatives. 

It covers the pathophysiology of malignant hyperthermia, clinical management of malignant hyperthermia crisis, malignant hyperthermia investigation by muscle biopsy, genetic screening and how to provide safe anaesthesia to a person known or susceptible to malignant hyperthermia.