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 Tasmanian Audit of Surgical Mortality (TASM) is an external, independent peer process that reviews the clinical management surrounding deaths that occurred during surgical admission when patients are admitted under consultant surgeons as well as in-hospital deaths where an anaesthetically related component to the death may be a possibility.
TASM is a joint initiative between the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons that provides office resources for this project and the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Resources fund all other resources required. The TASM Management Committee oversees the project which constitutes an invaluable foundation to the running and success of the audit program.
The principal aim of TASM is to improve the quality of healthcare through feedback and education. In order to achieve this, evidence from local audit data is required. TASM commenced data collection in September 2004.
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.