Push for NZ to do mortality audit
SUE FEA IN QUEENSTOWN
Australian medical researchers want New Zealand to adopt a surgical mortality audit that is already believed to have saved numerous lives on the operating table.
University of Adelaide Professor of Surgery Guy Maddern said in Queenstown yesterday latest figures showed what appeared to be a 30 per cent drop in surgical mortality in Western Australia where data was first collected 10 years ago. All Australian states had gradually come on board and the number of surgical deaths had decreased markedly.
About 10,000 Australians died in surgery each year - 95 per cent of those deaths were unavoidable, due to the likes of cancer or trauma, but 5 per cent warranted further investigation, he said.
Early evidence had shown "a substantial reduction" in those 5 per cent of deaths, particularly in Western Australia where the data had been collected for the longest.
An analysis of the findings was circulated to all surgeons and although in most cases the causes were well known, the number of cases had decreased, Prof Maddern said.
"We identified early on that using drugs to thin the blood at the time of surgery led to a lot of deaths that were avoidable."
Patient transfer times to base hospitals were also found to be too slow so pressure was placed on the Government for faster retrievals.
Over-resuscitation with fluids was another cause.
It cost $2.1 million a year to collect the data so it wasn't cheap but it saved lives, Prof Maddern said.
Australian researchers were now working with New Zealand ear, nose and throat surgeon Cathy Ferguson to encourage the New Zealand health system and Government to adopt the same audit system so comparisons could be made with Australia.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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