Notification of anaesthetic death

The following deaths must be reported to the Chief Health Officer as soon as possible, preferably within 48 hours:

  • When any person dies within a period of 48 hours following the administration of an anaesthetic agent.
  • When any person dies as the result of any complications arising from the administration of an anaesthetic.
  • When any medical practitioner is of the opinion that the anaesthesia or administration of an anaesthetic may reasonably be suspected as the cause of death or as contributing to the cause of death.

Relevant legislation

The statutory requirement to notify deaths of persons under anaesthetic is specified in Section 336B of the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1911 (external site).

Responsibility for notification

  • The person who administered the anaesthetic to the deceased, or
  • Any medical practitioner who forms the opinion that anaesthesia or the administration of an anaesthetic may reasonably be suspected as the cause of death or as contributing to the cause of death of that person.

Who must be notified

Under the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1911, the Chief Health Officer must be notified.

How to notify

Notification can made by email, telephone, fax or mail (contact details below).

The following information should be provided as soon as possible, preferably within 48 hours:

  • patient name
  • patient address
  • date of birth and unit medical record number (UMRN)
  • operation type and hospital at which operation performed
  • operation date and ASA classification of operation
  • date and time patient deceased
  • anaesthetist and surgeon names
  • time anaesthetic began and ended
  • duration induction to death
  • presumed cause of death
  • contact details of reporting practitioner
  • summary report, and
  • Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, if available.

The summary report should provide a short, narrative summary of the circumstances of the death.

This will assist the investigator to make a determination about whether anaesthesia may have contributed to the death.

For further information visit the Anaesthesia Western Australia (external site) (under section on the Anaesthesia Mortality Committee).

Contact

For more information on notification of deaths related to anaesthetic, or to make a notification contact:

Chief Health Officer
Office of the Chief Health Officer
Telephone: 9222 2295
Fax: 9222 2322
Email: edphwa@health.wa.gov.au

Postal address:
Office of the Chief Health Officer
Department of Health
PO Box 8172
Perth Business Centre WA 6849

Purpose of notifications

The Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1911 (Part XIIIB) also provides the legal basis for the constitution of the Anaesthetic  Mortality Committee (AMC) as a statutory committee under the direction of the Chief Health Officer. The primary purpose of the Committee is educational.

The Anaesthetic Mortality Committee meets annually to examine the causes of all deaths related to anaesthetics in the WA population. The Committee also uses all notifications to monitor the number of deaths and inform clinical practice and public health strategies.

The Chairman of the WA Anaesthetic Mortality Committees is a member of the National Anaesthesia  Mortality Committee, which meets at least annually at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists headquarters to share information and produce national reports. The latest Safety of Anaesthesia triennial report (external PDF 960KB) includes information provided by the WA Anaesthetic Mortality Committee.

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Public Health