Medical Anesthesia Consultants

Uses of Bow-Tie Diagrams in Risk Management for Anesthesia Specialists

August 9, 2017 | 10:41 am | Info Articles
Comment are off

Risk management is critical to the practice of anesthesia because of the latter’s inherent risks that can lead to medication errors. To understand and reduce risks, anesthesia specialists implement risk management, which refers to the systematic process of determining, analyzing, and controlling real or potential risks and their organizational implications.

Numerous models are used for managing said risks; however, bow-tie analysis appears to be one of the most advantageous for anesthesia. It includes diverse factors that shape risks. Furthermore, it’s widely adopted by industries demanding a high degree of reliability, such as engineering and aviation.

Bow-tie analysis in healthcare finds three critical uses for anesthesia specialists in Northern California.

bow tie diagrams

Basic Elements of a Bow-Tie Diagram

Bow-tie diagrams merge a fault tree and an event tree which form the shape of a bow-tie. The most important concept is the undesired element, or “top event,” which happens if a hazard passes through prevention controls. Top events happen rarely and from different causes. A bow-tie diagram supports the identification of mitigation and recovery actions to counter the consequences of top events.

Three Major Risk Management Uses of Bow-Tie Diagrams

Bow-tie diagrams can help to understand anesthesia risks, including their prevention and control. The process of generating a bow-tie diagram necessitates a detailed evaluation of hazards and the best possible controls, thereby improving the ability to gain new insights about such hazards or risks.

Making bow-tie diagrams can, in effect, help identify existing weaknesses in a practice and offer the opportunity for designing preemptive actions.

Bow-tie diagrams also aid the teaching of risk management. They can be simplified to teach concepts and practical tips to the staff or impart the details for groups with specific interests and expertise. Different risks and controls can be identified and discussed as can the responsibilities of team members through a pictorial display of significant factors and their complex interactions.

Finally, a bow-tie diagram can be used to exhibit risk management strategies to other parties. Individual anesthesiologists and hospitals may be called to show their risk control strategies for various groups, such as medical defense organizations and accreditation bodies. A bow-tie diagram can easily show the risk management approach to any kind of risk.

Bow-tie analysis and diagrams provide opportunities for identifying and controlling risks. If you want to know more about them and other tools, consider joining an anesthesia medical group in Northern California that is trained in using diverse risk management models.


“Bow-Tie Diagrams for Risk Management in Anaesthesia,” ResearchGate.net
“Clinical Risk Management in Anaesthesia,” Academic.OUP.com

About the Author