Mortality Review (Authorised Committees)

The Health Administration Act 1982

The Health Administration Act 1982 establishes provisions which recognise a special approach can be warranted in dealing with information obtained for or in connection with research and investigations of morbidity and mortality in NSW.

Section 23 of the Act provides for certain investigations and research authorised by the Minister to be privileged, meaning restrictions are placed on when and how the information obtained/developed in such research or investigations can be disclosed.

Authorisation under Section 23 imposes restrictions on the disclosure of information developed for or by an authorised committee.

The following committees currently have special privilege under Section 23 of the Health Administration Act 1982:

  • NSW Maternal and Perinatal Mortality Review Committee
  • Special Committee Investigating Deaths Under Anaesthesia (SCIDUA)
  • Collaborating Hospitals' Audit of Surgical Mortality (CHASM) Committee
  • Clinical Risk Action Group (CRAG) Committee

The Secretariat for these committees is provided by the Clinical Excellence Commission.

NSW Maternal and Perinatal Mortality Review Committee

This Committee was originally established in 1939 to review and investigate the instance of maternal mortality in NSW. In 1969 the Committee's role was expanded to include perinatal morbidity and mortality, i.e. stillbirths and deaths occurring within 28 days of birth. The Committee also reviews aggregate data on maternal and perinatal morbidity and makes policy recommendations for prevention of these morbidities.

Information arising from reviews conducted by the Committee assists in the development of policies designed to improve the quality of health of mothers and newborns. Information from the Committee is published by the Department of Health in the annual NSW Mothers and Babies Report.

Special Committee Investigating Deaths Under Anaesthesia (SCIDUA)

The Special Committee Investigating Deaths Under Anaesthesia (SCIDUA) is a statutory committee established in 1960. Its primary objective is to peer review all anaesthesia and sedation related deaths so as to identify any areas of clinical management where alternative methods could have led to a more favourable results.

In NSW, notification of deaths arising after anaesthesia or sedation for operations or procedures is a legal requirement stipulated in section 84 of the Public Health Act 2010. The Committee provides confidential feedback to health practitioners for individual cases, publishes an annual report and provides aggregate data to the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists for inclusion in a triennial national report on safety of anaesthesia collated by the College.

Collaborating Hospitals' Audit Of Surgical Mortality (CHASM) Committee

The Collaborating Hospitals' Audit of Surgical Mortality (CHASM) Committee is a statutory committee formerly known as the Special Committee Investigating Deaths Associated With Surgery, which was established in 1993. The CHASM Committee oversees a systematic peer-review audit of deaths of patients, who were under the care of a surgeon at some time during their hospital stay in NSW, regardless of whether an operation was performed.

The peer review audit is designed to identify system and process errors for educational and ongoing improvement purposes. CHASM is a partner of the Australian and New Zealand Audit of Surgical Mortality (ANZASM), which is a bi-national framework of regional surgical mortality audits administered by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS). Participation in ANZASM, i.e. CHASM in NSW, is a mandatory requirement in the Continuing Professional Development Program of RACS.

Clinical Risk Action Group (CRAG) Committee

The NSW Health Clinical Risk Action Group (CRAG) is responsible for the assessment and oversight of management of serious clinical adverse events reported to the Ministry of Health via Reportable Incident Briefs (RIBs), which are prepared specifically for the Committee's purpose, and ensuring that appropriate action is taken.

The Committee analyses information on specific incidents and identifies issues relating to morbidity and mortality that may have significant implications for the provision of health care within the State of New South Wales. Material created for and by the Clinical Risk Action Group is privileged and cannot be disclosed or released without the approval of the Minister for Health or the Minister's authorised delegate.

Health Administration Regulation 2010

The privilege granted to authorised committees operates independently of the Root Cause Analysis (RCA) privilege. Under Clause 14 of the Health Administration Regulation 2010, an RCA Team is entitled to share information if it is provided to one of the authorised committees listed in the regulation.