Introduction to the Quick Reference Handbook (QRH)

The Quick Reference Handbook (QRH) is a collection of guidelines for unexpected or uncommon anaesthesia-related emergencies. It aims to ensure the response to a crisis is as organised and all-encompassing as possible, at a time when the cognitive load can impair performance.

The QRH helps clinicians focus on delivering care, using the skills and knowledge they already have. All clinicians should become familiar with the QRH and be practised in its use, so it's automatically reached for in a crisis.

Keeping your QRH up to date
From time to time individual QRH guidelines will be updated. It's important you replace these in your copy to ensure your QRH is up to date. You can check which edition you have by looking at the Contents page.

If the Content page says January 2018 this is the launch edition. All guidelines are 'v.1'. If the Contents page says May 2018 this is the latest version. To update from the January 2018 to the May 2018 edition you'll need to replace the following pages:

  • 0-1 Cover page (contains new wording)
  • 0-2 Contents (updated to May 2018 edition; contains updated guideline version numbers)
  • 3-1 Anaphylaxis (updated to reflect conclusions of NAP6)
  • 3-2 Major blood loss (corrected re: tranexamic acid administration)

If you are familiar with the QRH you can download the 'as is' PDF version, or, if you wish to modify the QRH you can download the editable Word version.

What the QRH is not
The QRH is not a substitute for learning and practicing clinical skills. Nor is it a substitute for being familiar with more detailed guidelines and algorithms, such as those for managing cardiac arrest or difficult airway.

It's essential that clinicians learn about these and practice their implementation elsewhere. For example, it's expected that in using the QRH guideline for managing cardiac arrest, clinicians will already have underlying knowledge of conditions causing cardiac arrest and will be competent in providing advanced life support.

QRH in holder

The QRH is also not intended to be used as a rule book every single time one of the guideline situations is encountered. For instance, most ordinary occasions of hypotension will have a simple cause and will respond to obvious remedies. The hypotension guideline becomes useful if the situation is out of the ordinary or becomes unremitting. Conversely, for the more immediate and uncommon problems, such as cardiac arrest in theatre, the guideline should be used from the outset to help avoid missing out useful steps in resolving the situation.

The guidelines in the QRH are not intended to be standards of medical care. The ultimate judgement about a particular clinical procedure or treatment plan must be made by the clinician in light of the clinical data presented and the diagnostic and treatment options available.

Using the guidelines
For more information on the guidelines and how to use them in a crisis read Finding your way around the QRH. If you intend to introduce the QRH in your unit, you should read and follow the implementation guide.

You can download the 'as is' PDF version of the QRH, or if you wish to modify it, you can download the editable Word version.
If you have any feedback or comments about the QRH, please contact secretariat@aagbi.org