A survey of propofol abuse in academic anesthesia programs

Paul E. Wischmeyer, Bradley R. Johnson, Joel E. Wilson, Colleen Dingmann, Heidi M. Bachman, Evan Roller, Zung Vu Tran, Thomas K. Henthorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Although propofol has not traditionally been considered a drug of abuse, subanesthetic doses may have an abuse potential. We used this survey to assess prevalence and outcome of propofol abuse in academic anesthesiology programs. METHODS: E-mail surveys were sent to the 126 academic anesthesiology training programs in the United States. RESULTS: The survey response rate was 100%. One or more incidents of propofol abuse or diversion in the past 10 yr were reported by 18% of departments. The observed incidence of propofol abuse was 10 per 10,000 anesthesia providers per decade, a fivefold increase from previous surveys of propofol abuse (P = 0.005). Of the 25 reported individuals abusing propofol, 7 died as a result of the propofol abuse (28%), 6 of whom were residents. There was no established system to control or monitor propofol as is done with opioids at 71% of programs. There was an association between lack of control of propofol (e.g., pharmacy accounting) at the time of abuse and incidence of abuse at the program (P = 0.048). CONCLUSIONS: Propofol abuse in academic anesthesiology likely has increased over the last 10 yr. Much of the mortality is in residents. Most programs have no pharmacy accounting or control of propofol stocks. This may be of concern, given that all programs reporting deaths from propofol abuse were centers in which there was no pharmacy accounting for the drug.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1066-1071
Number of pages6
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2007


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