12 October 2015

WA hospitals continue to improve on quality surgical care

Western Australian patients continue to receive a high standard of surgical care, according to the latest WA Audit of Surgical Mortality (WAASM) report.

The report showed the number of surgery-related deaths had decreased by 15 per cent, as a proportion of the population, between 2010 and 2014.

WA Health’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Gary Geelhoed said Western Australian hospitals continued to provide safe and high quality care to patients.

“Patient safety remains the priority for WA Health and this report is an important tool that helps us to improve our services by learning from adverse events,” Professor Geelhoed said.

The WAASM report covers a five-year period from 2010 to 2014, and includes the clinical review of all cases where patients have died under the care of a surgeon in WA, regardless of whether a procedure took place.

In 2014, 578 deaths were reported to WAASM from 19 public and private hospitals. This number has fallen from 601 deaths in 2012.

There were two adverse events which caused death in 2014 but neither of these were considered definitely preventable.

Professor Geelhoed said the report also highlighted some areas of concern around patient transfers but cautioned against inferring that more surgical patients were dying as result of these transfers.

“As our demand for services grow, so too does the need to transfer more patients with complex health conditions,” he said.

“We look forward to working with WAASM on this issue to ensure the best outcomes for patients.

“WA Health remains supportive of the WA Audit of Surgical Mortality (WAASM) and is committed to ensuring that clinical excellence in health care is delivered to all patients.”

Professor Geelhoed commended the high number of surgeons who participated in the audit and said it showed that the surgical community wanted to improve its practices by learning from mistakes.

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

The report is available at the WA Audit of Surgical Mortality website (external site).

Media contact: (08) 9222 4333

Follow us on Twitter: @WAHealth