Notification of death of persons under anaesthetic

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 may be made by completion of the below electronic form – all instructions are provided in the form.

Notification form

The following information will be required for completion of the form:

  • Patient details
  • Dates and times anaesthesia commenced and ended
  • Date and time patient deceased
  • Details of anaesthetists and surgeons/proceduralists involved
  • Case details:
    • Pre-operative assessment and management details
    • Intraoperative and post-operative details
    • Anaesthetic assistance
    • Other information, issues or comments
  • Upload of anaesthetic chart or other documentation (optional)

Entry of data in this electronic form may be suspended at any stage and recommenced at a later time. All details entered will be retained without any loss of information.

For further information or assistance

For more information on notification of deaths related to anaesthetic contact:

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

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.

Last reviewed: 21-06-2021
Produced by

Public Health