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Surgery in Victoria remains safe and the latest report from the Victorian Audit of Surgical Mortality (VASM) provides an understanding of how Victorian surgical outcomes compare to national trends.

The Victorian Audit of Surgical Mortality (VASM) is a peer review audit that helps us to learn from when patients dies in hospital following a surgical procedure or when a death has occurred in hospital while under the care of a surgeon, even though no procedure was performed.

For the cases reviewed by VASM, the peer-review process found no issues with patient management in the majority (78.9%) of audited cases.

VASM found pre-existing medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, advanced age and respiratory disease are the most common risk factors, with the majority of surgical deaths being amongst emergency presentations of elderly patients with acute life-threatening conditions.

The report highlights the importance of discussing clear goals of care with patients, having senior medical involvement and having good oversight through robust local systems for clinical governance.

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