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June 28, 2016

Launch of surgical audit is imminent

By Lloyd Mudiwa.

The proposed National Office for Clinical Audit in Surgery (NOCAS), which is expected to place participating Irish surgeons at the forefront of international best practice in surgical governance, is to be launched in a matter of two-to-three months, Irish Medical Times can reveal.

RCSI Chair of the Committee for Surgical Affairs, Mr Ken Mealy, last week confirmed the forthcoming launch of the confidential national surgical mortality survey, which is set to boost and standardise the level of patient surgical care. “Within a couple of months, in two-to-three months, we will see NOCAS launched,” the General Surgeon at Wexford General Hospital told IMT.

Referred to as the Irish Audit of Surgical Mortality (IASM), the survey — modelled on the Scottish Audit of Surgical Mortality (SASM) — will examine all deaths that occur in Irish surgical departments. Considerable individual and institutional change has resulted from SASM reporting in Scotland over the past two decades, leading to improvements in patient care.

Mr Mealy said €1.4 million had been allocated in the HSE National Service Plan 2012 for the development of the elective surgery clinical programme, in terms of hiring elective programme managers, and for rolling out ‘The Productive Theatre Programme’ (TPOT), the average length of stay (ALOS) database and NOCAS.

Surgeons would be able to benchmark themselves against national and international norms, Mr Mealy added, explaining that apart from Scotland, the audit was also used in Australia and New Zealand.

“We have been in contact with them [Australia and New Zealand] and they are very keen that we have an international network that would compare patterns of deaths, and if there are differences from region to region, we want to find out why,” he said.