A comparison of four systems for scoring recovery quality after general anaesthesia in horses.
ABSTRACT The recovery quality scoring systems (RQSSs) in current use have not been critically reviewed for reliability. Objective: To examine reliability (reproducibility) of 4 RQSSs when applied to a ranked series.
A DVD incorporating the recordings of 9 horses recovering from general anaesthesia was evaluated by final year students over 5 days. On Day 1, each evaluator ranked recoveries from 1-9 (1 = best). Over the following 4 days, each evaluator scored the same recoveries using 4 different RQSSs (3 of them in common usage and previously published) applied in random order. The scores from each RQSS were ranked and plotted against the Day 1 ranking of each evaluator to establish the extent of agreement using generalisability theory. The same 9 recoveries were also ranked by 12 experienced equine anaesthetists and the Spearman Rank Correlation coefficient calculated to determine the agreement between experienced and inexperienced evaluators.
The recoveries were evaluated by 117 students. All 4 RQSSs were equally reliable with low (<4%) interobserver variability. The main (80%) source of total variation arose from differences between horses. The overall ranking within each RQSS was strongly correlated with Day 1 ranking. There was strong correlation (r = 0.983) between the students' ranking and that established by experienced anaesthetists. Interobserver reliability was similar with all 4 RQSSs.
All 4 RQSSs studied were similarly reliable. Potential relevance: The selection of a universally acceptable RQSS from amongst the 4 examined can be based on criteria other than reliability, e.g. ease of use. This will facilitate wider scale multi-centre studies in recovery quality after anaesthesia in horses.