Outcomes from the Northern Territory audit of surgical mortality: Aboriginal deaths

Treacy, Peter J., North, John B., Rey-Conde, Therese, Allen, Jennifer and Ware, Robert S. (2015) Outcomes from the Northern Territory audit of surgical mortality: Aboriginal deaths. ANZ Journal of Surgery, 85 1-2: 11-15. doi:10.1111/ans.12896

Author Treacy, Peter J.
North, John B.
Rey-Conde, Therese
Allen, Jennifer
Ware, Robert S.
Title Outcomes from the Northern Territory audit of surgical mortality: Aboriginal deaths
Journal name ANZ Journal of Surgery   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1445-2197
Publication date 2015-01
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/ans.12896
Open Access Status
Volume 85
Issue 1-2
Start page 11
End page 15
Total pages 5
Place of publication Richmond, VIC Australia
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Asia
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract

A significant ‘gap’ in life expectancy exists for Australian Aboriginal people. The role of surgical care in this gap has been poorly addressed. This study has compared in-hospital surgical deaths of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal persons in order to identify patient factors plus deficiencies of care that may have contributed to the gap.


This study used retrospective data collection and prospective audit of all in-hospital surgical deaths since commencement of the Northern Territory Audit of Surgical Mortality (NTASM). Outcome measures included causes of death, coexisting factors and deficiencies of care.


Between June 2010 and June 2013, 190 deaths were audited (96% capture), of which 72 (38%) were Aboriginal. Aboriginal persons were younger at death (53 versus 65 years, P < 0.001) and had a higher incidence of diabetes (odds ratio = 2.8, 95% confidence interval: 1.4–5.6), renal (2.3, 1.1–4.7) and liver disease (5.7, 2.6–12.9). When adjusted for age and gender, serious cofactors were significantly more common in Aboriginal persons (3.8, 1.3–7.1). Rates of infections and all-cause trauma were comparable. There were no significant differences in the rates of complications, unplanned returns to theatre or intensive care unit, delays to surgery or whether in retrospect the surgeon considered management overall could have been improved.


A large gap of 12 years exists for age at death between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal persons admitted as surgical patients in the Northern Territory. Aboriginal persons had significantly more co-morbidities at time of death, particularly diabetes, renal and hepatic disease. No significant discrepancies of surgical care were identified between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal persons.
Keyword Australian Aborigine
Clinical audit
In-hospital mortality
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online ahead of print 4 Nov 2014

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Public Health Publications
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