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Keywords:

  • health services research;
  • quality;
  • record linkage;
  • standards;
  • surgical outcomes.

Background:

The aim of this study is to establish model to evaluate surgical outcomes and, where indicated, recommend changes to improve the quality of surgical care in Western Australia (WA). Open resection for aneurysm of the abdominal aorta was the first procedure evaluated and the results are reported in an accompanying paper.

Methods:

The Quality of Surgical Care Project (QSCP) is conducted under the aegis of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) in WA, and brings together multidisciplinary team of surgeons, public health researchers and health service administrators. The Western Australia Health Services Research Linked Database (the WA Linked Database) is used to provide linked chains of patients records residing in the state health department from the following sources: hospital morbidity data system, birth and death records, mental health services data, cancer registrations and midwives' notifications. This links 16 years of population–based patient records from 1980, including all public and private hospital admissions and re-admissions. The Quality of Surgical Care Project was established to use and to correlate the data from the WA Linked Database.

Results:

The result is powerful database for contained population that is available for scientific analysis by multidisciplinary team of clinical epidemiologists, surgeons and health service managers. Users will have the ability to establish benchmark standards for the outcomes of surgical procedures in WA for use in quality improvement programmes run by the College and will facilitate self-directed performance auditing activities as commitment to greater community accountability.

Conclusions:

The Quality of Surgical Care Project provides potential model of benefits to be realized by both the medical profession and the community through multidisciplinary collaboration supported by adequate information. Although migration from WA is relatively low, future linkage to the state electoral roll will allow correction for any population change.