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Mortality Audit Could Save Lives

Mortality Audit Could Save Lives

Wednesday 11 March, 2005

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) is calling on the Government to help fund a nationwide review of surgical deaths which it says could help save lives in New Zealand.

Following a successful audit of surgical deaths undertaken in Western Australia RACS has rolled out the programme in three other Australian states and plans to negotiate with the New Zealand Government to expand the audit.

Results from the Western Australian Audit of Surgical Mortality (WAASM), released today at the RACS Annual Scientific Congress in Perth showed more than 95 per cent of West Australian surgeons who had an adverse event participated in the survey - 73 per cent said they had changed their practise as a result of the audit and 43 per cent of hospital administrators reported changes in their hospitals.

The audit reviewed all deaths in Western Australian hospitals under a surgeon’s care – whether an operation had taken place or not.

President-elect of RACS Mr Russell Stitz says information obtained from mortality audits on both sides of the Tasman would help improve care to patients, surgical practice and surgical systems.

“This is not about blaming, shaming or finding scapegoats it is about how we can improve performance and standards throughout the hospital system.

“If surgeons want to retain the confidence of the public they need to demonstrate that they are involved with a patient safety programme.” he said.

WAASM was established in 2001 to independently, peer-review all surgically related deaths in WA. It was modelled on the Scottish Audit of Surgical Mortality.
RACS Executive Director of Surgical Affairs in New Zealand John Simpson said understanding how systems contributed to mistakes would definitely contribute to saving lives in the future.

He said while public hospitals in New Zealand were currently undertaking audits a national programme would pool information about surgical deaths and help identify patterns and trends. “We strongly encourage the Government to support and fund this very important initiative,” he said.


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