Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Reports by anaesthetists to procurators-fiscal: analysis of "anaesthetic deaths" over 10 years in four Scottish teaching hospitals.

Br Med J 1979; 1 doi: (Published 12 May 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;1:1246
  1. A L Gillies,
  2. D S Arthur,
  3. A L Forrest,
  4. J I Lawson,
  5. A H Masson,
  6. A A Spence


    Review of 489 "anaesthetic deaths" reported to procurators-fiscal over 10 years disclosed only 30 that were thought to justify such reporting. Most of the remainder occurred in patients so desperately ill at the time of operation that death was expected. Postmortem examinations ordered by the Crown authorities in nearly all cases were probably largely unrewarding and mostly unnecessary. The results suggest that the present regulation on reporting should be revised to focus more attention on the few deaths that occur in patients who have no apparent contraindication to anaesthesia or operation.