A Survey of the Surgical Morbidity and Mortality Conference in the United States and Canada: A Dying Tradition or the Key to Modern Quality Improvement?

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Abstract

Objective: We seek to identify the current role and practices of the surgery morbidity and mortality (M&M) conference in academic surgery departments in the United States and Canada. Design, Setting, and Participants: All members of the Society of Surgical Chairs, a program of the American College of Surgeons, were e-mailed an IRB-approved 28-question electronic survey in fall 2017. Up to 3 reminders were sent. Results: Responses from 129/186 (69%) departments of surgery were received. Nearly all departments (96%) continue to have a departmental M&M conference. The M&M conference is typically weekly (93%), between 7 and 9 AM (80%), on weekdays during which there are no scheduled elective operations (84%). Attendance is mandatory for residents (98%), but required for faculty in only 49% of departments. Fewer than half of all departments (44%) have written guidelines as to which complications should be reported to M&M. Most conferences are prepared case presentations (89%), but may include unprepared discussions (17%), case-based educational presentations (30%), or a combination (28%). The most common classification category was by root case of the error (60%) and preventability (58%). Most departments keep electronic and/or physical M&M reports, while 21% maintain a relational database and 25% do not retain records. While almost all (96%) departments reported participating in at least one national quality improvement program, these are not often linked to the M&M process. Conclusions: M&M is predominantly seen as an educational conference based on a few select cases. Departmental quality is monitored with hospital-driven or national quality improvement efforts. Integration of hospital-based quality metric programs with surgery M&M conference is uncommon and represents an opportunity for hospital-department collaboration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • M&M conference
  • morbidity and mortality conference
  • patient safety
  • quality improvement
  • survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education

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