This item was published during the term of a previous administration that ended in April 2007
Report finds surgery safer than ever before
Fewer patients are dying during and after surgery than ever before, according to the latest Scottish Audit of Surgical Mortality annual report.
The report which reviews all deaths that occur in hospital under the care of a surgeon - whether an operation has taken place or not - shows that surgical operations are becoming safer.
The main findings of today's report are:
- 4,091 deaths occurred under surgical care in Scotland in 2004 compared to 4,478 in 2003
- the number of deaths following elective admission continues to fall from 387 in 2003 to 251 for 2004
- the number of deaths following emergency admissions is also at an all time low of 2,255. In 2003 3,098 deaths followed an emergency admission.
- in 2004 infection 'contributed to' the deaths of 376 patients (nine per cent of total deaths) following an operation.
Health Minister Andy Kerr said:
"This is a unique report which is vital as it thoroughly examines the care provided by our hospital surgeons and anaesthetists.
"This year almost nine out of every ten deaths which occurred under surgical care were fully recorded and reviewed. While these returns are encouraging, we cannot be complacent.
"I am pleased that the number of deaths in surgical care is at an all time low. This is testament to the quality of care provided by surgeons and anaesthetists.
"However, mortality rates do also depend on the kind of work being done. As we develop more techniques, tackle more conditions, and treat patients for whom there would have been no hope in the past, mortality rates are bound to be higher in some years and lower in others.
"The increase in deaths where infection 'contributed' is concerning. However, I welcome the audit team's work on analysing further information on healthcare associated infection and look forward to seeing the results.
"This is an issue which I am committed to tackling. We have already introduced many measures through the Ministerial HAI Task Force. These measures include increasing the number of infection control nurses and ensuring alcohol hand gels are available near every frontline bed.
"It is important to remember that much has been achieved since 2004, when this data was collected. We aim to achieve a widespread and long term change in attitudes and behaviours around hospital hygiene. This is a major long term undertaking - experience elsewhere shows that there are no quick fixes.
"This annual report is the eleventh produced by the Scottish Audit of Surgical Mortality. During this period great progress has been made in surgical services and I look forward to this continuing."
The Scottish Audit of Surgical Mortality (SASM) annual review covers all patients dying under surgical care during 2004.
The report can be found on the SASM website www.sasm.org.uk