National survey of surgical morbidity and mortality conferences

Am J Surg. 2006 May;191(5):708-14. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2006.01.029.


Background: Morbidity and mortality conferences historically have been a paramount meeting for education and quality assurance within surgical departments of teaching institutions. The purpose of this survey was to assess the present educational value and the quality assurance aspect of surgical mortality conferences.

Methods: Surveys were sent to every academic surgical training program director within the United States and Canada (n = 127) and queried the general format and an individual's experience and attitude toward their institutions conference.

Results: A total of 546 individuals from 34 institutions returned completed surveys. The survey findings showed that 74% of these surgical departments discussed all deaths and 50% discussed all complications. There was general agreement that surgical morbidity and mortality conferences are of good educational value and effective in reducing future error. The majority of respondents expressed that evidence-based literature should be the primary basis of discussion, with comprehensive presentations that focus on analysis of error.

Conclusions: This survey showed that morbidity and mortality conferences are both educational and perceived by the respondents as effective in reducing future error.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Canada / epidemiology
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors / mortality*
  • Medical Errors / statistics & numerical data
  • Morbidity / trends*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology