A clinical audit is particularly relevant to the surgical specialties. It is accepted as an essential component of the evidence-based process of performance appraisal. Surgical audit is a regular, documented, critical analysis of the outcomes of surgical care. The results are reviewed by peers and used to further inform surgical practice.
The South Australian Audit of Surgical Mortality (SAASM) is an important initiative of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and its Fellowship to peer review the clinical management of deaths occurring during surgical admission in South Australia. Funding for this project is provided by SA Health. The SAASM Management Committee meets twice a year and has oversight of the project which constitutes an invaluable foundation to the running and success of the audit program.
The principal aim of SAASM is to improve the quality of healthcare through feedback and education. In order to achieve this, evidence from local audit data is required.
Feedback in individual and group formats is produced. Individual feedback is thus provided to individual surgeons and aggregate data is disseminated to all surgeons and hospitals.
Surgeons are protected by statutory immunity through Commonwealth Qualified Privilege legislation. This legislation is designed to strongly encourage clinical professionals to engage in quality and safety initiatives in order to bring about improvements in care.