Wednesday, 07 Dec 2022

Patients dying daily due to poor soft skills among Australian surgeons, experts warn

Patients dying daily due to poor soft skills among Australian surgeons, experts warn


Patients dying daily due to poor soft skills among Australian surgeons, experts warn

More than 1,000 Australians die unnecessarily in hospital each year due to avoidable failures by surgeons, according to experts calling for a senate inquiry.

Graham Beaumont, PhD, and Dr John North are both long-term members of audit committees that review surgical mortality in Australia.

They say patients are dying every day as a result of poor decisions to operate, communication issues, and lacklustre teamwork in operating theatres, as well as incentives for doctors to pursue "futile and unnecessary surgeries".

Beaumont, a member of the Australian and New Zealand Audit of Surgical Mortality committee of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, said it was "reasonable to suggest there are in excess of 1,000 avoidable patient surgical deaths per annum across the nation based on the data in the public domain".

"This figure could be several magnitudes higher because decisions to operate made by surgeons are not routinely scrutinised to assess the futility and necessity of surgical interventions. This figure is the great unknown," he said.

As clinical director of the Queensland Audit of Surgical Mortality, North runs the process that provides peer-reviewed feedback about all surgical deaths in Queensland, in both private and public hospitals.

"We hear every day about decision-making and communication failures that lead to surgical deaths and errors that could have been avoided," he said.

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