Even though anaesthesia-related deaths have dropped by more than 90 percent in the past 50 years, the profession is striving to make anaesthesia even safer, says the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA).

The Chair of ANZCA’s New Zealand National Committee, Dr Geoff Long, was commenting on the release today (Wednesday March 27, 2013) of the second report from the Perioperative Mortality Review Committee (POMRC). This committee reviews all deaths related to surgery and anaesthesia that occur within 30 days of an operation.

“Although mortality attributable to anaesthesia has reduced by over 90 percent on what it was before the 1970s, we are always striving to improve even more the safety of patients undergoing procedures in our hospitals. This report will help greatly with that,” Dr Long said.

“Our college’s fundamental mission is about fostering safety and high quality patient care. While anaesthesia has seen enormous improvements in safety in recent decades, we welcome POMRC’s work because it helps identify how we can do even better.

“ANZCA pushed hard for years to have this committee established and it is very satisfying to see it producing the sort of information that can help us further improve the way we assess patients and manage the risk that can be associated with surgery and anaesthesia,” Dr Long said.

“This report helps identify steps that can be taken to prevent unnecessary deaths as well as assisting patients to make more informed and appropriate choices as to their options for health care.

“We fully support the report’s recommendations, particularly increased assessment of patients for risk and how to take account of that, and use of the World Health Organization’s surgical safety checklist.

“We are also pleased to see the committee building on recommendations in its first report, particularly in taking a comprehensive approach to the gathering of data, and we are keen to see continuing progress in this area.

“We are very proud that this committee is led by an anaesthetist and former president of our college, Dr Leona Wilson. That is indicative of the value that we as anaesthetists put on continually improving patient safety,” Dr Long said.

 

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