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Programs SCIDUA

NSW Special Committee Investigating Deaths Under Anaesthesia (SCIDUA)


The Special Committee Investigating Deaths Under Anaesthesia (SCIDUA) is an expert committee established under Section 20 of the NSW Health Administration Act 1982.

All SCIDUA members are appointed by the Secretary, NSW Health, under delegation by the Minister for Health.

Established in 1960, the SCIDUA is the longest serving committee of its kind in the world, and has contributed to the impressive reduction in mortality attributable to anaesthesia in Australia.

Since its inception, SCIDUA has received notification of more than 10,000 deaths. In the overwhelming majority of these cases (approximately 95%), investigations reveal that the death was not in any way attributable to the anaesthesia.

From 01 September 2012 the committee will begin examining sedation related deaths in NSW.

Program Overview


The Special Committee Investigating Deaths Under Anaesthesia (SCIDUA) is an expert committee appointed by the Secretary, NSW Health, under delegation by the Minister for Health. Its Terms of Reference are to subject all deaths occurring while under, as a result of, or within 24 hours after the administration of anaesthesia or sedation to peer review so as to identify any areas of clinical management where alternative methods could have led to a more favourable result.

Committee members PDF ~131kb are appointed for a fixed term of 5 years, at the end of which the Committee advises the Secretary, NSW Health whether their re-appointment is appropriate. In the event of a member resigning, the Committee may recommend a suitable replacement to the Secretary. The Committee elects its own Chairperson, who must be a currently practicing anaesthetist. The Chief Executive Officer, Clinical Excellence Commission serves as an ex-officio member.

The Committee tries to ensure that anaesthetists from a broad range of clinical specialties and professional organisations are represented. Nominations for membership come to the Committee from the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA), the Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA), and academic Departments of Anaesthetics. Currently there is also a Consultant Forensic Pathologist on the Committee to help review autopsy findings.

Reporting Deaths to SCIDUA 

From 01 September 2012, the NSW Public Health Act 2010 requires the health practitioner who is responsible for the administration of the anaesthetic or sedative drug, where the patient died while under, or as a result of, or within 24 hours after the administration of an anaesthetic or sedative drug for a medical, surgical or dental operation or procedure, to report the death to the Secretary, NSW Health via the SCIDUA.

Health practitioners can notify the death by:

The Committee's documents are privileged from subpoena under Section 23 of the NSW Health Administration Act 1982. All communications between the reporting anaesthetist and the Committee is strictly confidential. 

Review of cases

All reported deaths are individually reviewed by the 2 or 3 member triage sub-Committee, which can either classify the death as due to factors not falling under the control of the health practitioner or request further information from the reporting health practitioner, using the SCIDUA questionnaire.

When the questionnaire is returned, information in this document is de-identified, copied and distributed to members of the Committee prior to its meetings. Cases are discussed at each meeting and classified using the nationally recognized Anaesthetic Mortality Classification.

A confidential reply by the Chair is sent to the health practitioner explaining the Committee's decision. The Committee reports annually to the Minister on the results of its deliberations. The Committee also provides aggregate data to the National Committee on Anaesthetic Mortality, triennially.


SCIDUA communicates with its key stakeholders as follows:

  • Each individual health practitioner who provides information to the Committee on the SCIDUA questionnaire receives a letter from the Chairperson
  • An annual report for the preceding calendar year is provided to the Minister.
  • The Committee provides data to the ANZCA Mortality Working Group, which produces the triennial report of ˜Safety of Anaesthesia: A review of anaesthesia related mortality reporting in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Periodically, the Committee submits reports to peer-reviewed journals in which trends in anaesthesia-related mortality are described. These reports reach a wide range of anaesthetists in Australia, New Zealand and internationally.

Note: All of the Committee's proceedings, documents and correspondence are protected under Section 23 of the Health Administration Act 1982.



  • SCIDUA Form of Notification (FoN) - PDF ~152kb
  • SCIDUA Questionnaire (for further detailed reporting) - PDF ~116kb
  • Flowchart explaining the reporting of deaths to SCIDUA and Coroner - PDF ~24kb
  • SCIDUA Committee Terms of Reference - PDF ~25kb
  • SCIDUA Committee membership & credentials - PDF ~131kb
  • SCIDUA Glossary of Terms - Case classification - PDF ~24kb

NSW Health Resources



  • Presented at the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare in April 2012 - SCIDUA Poster - PDF ~1.22Mb
  • Poster presented at the Australasian Mortality Data Interest Group (AMDIG) on 01/11/2011 - PDF~504Kb

Useful Links


Please direct your queries and correspondence to:

SCIDUA Secretariat, Special Committees.
Clinical Excellence Commission
Locked Bag A4062
Sydney South NSW 1235

Phone: (02) 9269 5530   Fax: (02) 9269 5599