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13 October 2014

Report shows surgical mortality down by 22 per cent

The latest report assessing surgical care shows Western Australians receive a high standard of care.

The WA Audit of Surgical Mortality (WAASM) revealed the number of surgery-related deaths has decreased by 22 per cent, as a proportion of the population, in the five years between 2009 and 2013.

The Acting Health Director-General, Professor Bryant Stokes, said this reduction reflected the Department's commitment to ensuring clinical excellence in patient care.

In 2013, there were 546 surgery-related deaths reported to WAASM by both public and private hospitals. This number has progressively fallen from 602 in 2009.

"There were only two adverse events which caused death in 2013 and neither of these was considered 'definitely preventable'," Professor Stokes said.

"WA Health has an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement and learning from adverse events is part of this strategy."

Professor Stokes said it was very encouraging that there was such a high level of engagement in the audit with 90 per cent of WA surgeons taking part.

"This high participation rate demonstrates that the surgical community wants to learn from mistakes and improve clinical practice," Professor Stokes said.

"WA was the first state to undertake a state-wide surgical mortality audit through WAASM, which has been ongoing for more than a decade."

WAASM is funded by WA Health and is coordinated by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in collaboration with WA surgeons.

The full WAASM report is available online.

Media contact: (08) 9222 4333

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