PURPOSE OF REVIEW: With an ageing population, mounting pressure on the healthcare dollar, significant advances in medical technology, and now in the context of coronavirus disease 2019, the traditional paradigm in which operative procedures are undertaken is changing. Increasingly, procedures are performed in more distant, isolated and less familiar locations, challenging anaesthesiologists and requiring well developed situational awareness. This review looks at implications for the practitioner and patient safety, outlining considerations and steps involved in translation of systems and processes well established in the operating room to more unfamiliar environments. RECENT FINDINGS: Despite limited nonoperating room anaesthesia outcome data, analysis of malpractice claims, anaesthesia-related medical disputes and clinical outcome registries have suggested higher morbidity and mortality. Complications were often associated with suboptimal monitoring, nonadherence to recommended guidelines and sedationist or nonanaesthesiologist caregivers. More recently, clear monitoring guidelines, global patient safety initiatives and widespread implementation of cognitive aids may have contributed to nonoperating room anaesthesia (NORA) outcomes approaching that of traditional operating rooms. SUMMARY: As NORA caseloads increase, understanding structural and anaesthetic requirements is essential to patient safety. The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 pandemic has provided an opportunity for anaesthesiologists to implement lessons learned from previous analyses, share expertise as patient safety leaders and provide valuable input into protecting patients and caregivers.