Analysis of 5 years of morbidity and mortality conferences in a metropolitan South African trauma service

Victor Y Kong, Damian Luiz Clarke


Background. Since 2008 the Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service (PMTS) has run a structured, self-reporting, metropolitan morbidity and mortality conference (MMC). In 2012 a hybrid electronic medical registry (HEMR) was introduced to capture routine data and to generate reports on morbidity and mortality. This paper reviews our experience in setting up a metropolitan MMC and compares the quality of the reported morbidity data from the pre- and post-HEMR era.

Methods. We compared data from the MMC before and after the introduction of the HEMR to audit the impact of these meetings on the reporting and analysis of surgical morbidity and mortality in our service.

Results. During the 4-year period from 2008 to 2011, a total of 208 MMCs were held. A total of 10 682 patients were admitted by the PMTS during that period, of whom 87% were males, and the mean age was 26 years. Penetrating trauma accounted for 40.9% (4 344/10 628) of the total workload. A total of 432 (4.1%) morbidities were identified. Of these, 36.6% (158) were related to human error, 32% (138/432) were related to surgical pathologies and the remaining 31.9% (136/432) were related to systemic diseases. There was an exponential increase in the reporting of morbidity each year. The total in-hospital mortality was 3% (358/10 682). Following the introduction of the HEMR, from 2012 to 2014, 6 217 patients were admitted. A total of 1 314 (21.1%) adverse events and 315 (5.1%) deaths were recorded by the HEMR. The adverse events were divided into 875 ‘pathology-related’ morbidities and 439 ‘error-related’ morbidities.

Conclusions. The development of the MMC led to increased reporting of morbidity and mortality. The introduction of the HEMR resulted in a dramatic improvement in the capturing of morbidity and mortality data, suggesting that a paper-based self-reporting system tends to underestimate morbidity. Over one-third of all morbidities were related to human error. Common morbidities have been identified.

Authors' affiliations

Victor Y Kong, Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service, Department of Surgery, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Damian Luiz Clarke, Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service, Department of Surgery, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

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Morbidity and mortality; Conferences; South Africa; Trauma service

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2016;106(7):695-698. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2016.v106i7.10549

Article History

Date submitted: 2016-01-16
Date published: 2016-06-17

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