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Aspiration pneumonia associated deaths in surgical patients – a 10-year review of an Australian state-based mortality audit

Dr Alisha Azmir

Presented in International Healthcare, Hospital Management, Nursing, and Patient Safety Conference Holiday Inn Dubai, UAE & Virtual
Poster Presenter Name: Dr Alisha Azmir
Global Journal of Healthcare, Hospital Management, Nursing, and Patient Safety
Unified Citation Journals, Nursing 2024, ISSN 2754-0952
Affiliation: Colorectal Surgeon at Canberra Hospital, Australia

Keywords: Aspiration Pneumonia, Surgical Mortality, Surgical Quality and Safety


Acute respiratory problems have long been identified as a frequent cause of death in surgical patients, however little is known about the specific impact of aspiration pneumonia (AP). This study provides a descriptive analysis of the NSW surgical mortality audit, examining the extent of AP as a factor to death, with secondary investigation of patient cohorts and co-morbidities.


A retrospective review was conducted on the NSW Collaborating Hospitals Audit of Surgical Mortality database, a state-based audit which examines all deaths of patients under the care of a surgeon. A 10-year period from 2008 to 2017 was reviewed, where AP was a main cause, or a contributory factor to death, with patient characteristics collated.


Over 10-years, the total number of AP associated deaths was 1103, an average of 5.2% of all notified surgical deaths (n=21,038). AP was a main factor to death in 53.5%, and a contributory factor in 46.5% of those patient deaths. The majority of patients were male (61.4%), age 70 or over (84.6%), with an ASA of 3 or more (85%). Most AP associated deaths were during an emergency admission (85%) and surgery was performed in 84% of patients. Admissions were predominantly under general (42.2%) or orthopaedic surgeons (33.3%), followed by neurosurgery (9.1%) and vascular surgery(6.9%). Other co-existing factors commonly identified as increasing risk of death included cardiovascular, respiratory and renal disease.


Many surgeons can recall a setting where AP has led to a possibly preventable peri-operative death – “a surgeon’s nightmare”. This 10-year surgical mortality review presents a baseline of information to understand AP associated surgical deaths to further assist prevention.


Dr Alisha Azmir is a colorectal surgeon at Canberra Hospital, Australia. She undertook her general surgery training through Western Sydney, ACT and regional NSW. She completed her post fellowship training at Nepean, Prince of Wales and Gold Coast University Hospitals. Her surgical interests include trainee mentorship and education, outreach and perioperative care. Her background also includes a bachelors degree in Information Technology.


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