Fixation errors occur when the practitioner concentrates solely upon a single aspect of a case to the detriment of other more relevant aspects. These are well recognised in anaesthetic practice and can contribute significantly to morbidity and mortality. Improvement in patient safety may be assisted by development and application of countermeasures to fixation errors. Cognitive psychologists use 'insight problems' in a laboratory setting, both to induce fixation and to explore strategies to escape from fixation. We present some results from a series of experiments on one such insight problem and consider applications that may have relevance to anaesthetic practice.