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Standardisation of surgical complications

Surgical complications are an important indicator of the quality of a treatment. Risk factors of a treatment can be determined and patients can be better informed of the risks of an orthopaedic intervention by means of a complication management system.

When a treatment is explained to patients, the respective treatment risks and possible surgical implications are addressed. However, depending on the condition and surgical intervention, this term is interpreted differently; there is still no standard, international definition to this day.

Furthermore, there are no accepted, uniform standards for the documentation and reporting of the occurrence of surgical complications, making it difficult to compare data with other hospitals, medical teams and countries.

Uniform definition and standardisation

Schulthess Clinic is therefore working hard to develop a uniform definition as well as a standard for the routine documentation of complications in the field of orthopaedic interventions in order to achieve consistency and comparability on an international level.

The process of establishing a definition involves various steps. Firstly, all definitions and terms published in the relevant literature are gathered. On the basis of this, an initial draft of the most important occurrences – the core set – is created. An international group of experts using the “Delphi method” then identifies a general consensus regarding the definition and determines the final core set.

This set and its use are tested and evaluated in a subsequent pilot phase before finally being introduced into everyday clinical practice. This process takes several years and must be conducted separately for each health condition.

At Schulthess Klinik, this process is already being carried out for two shoulder operations – tendon reconstruction and shoulder joint replacement – as well as the situation following the treatment of humeral fractures.

Schulthess Klinik

Schulthess Klinik
Lengghalde 2
8008 Zürich

Teaching, Research and Development