Safety and quality update: December 2022

15 December 2022

New this month: Blood Matters report; webAIRS season’s greetings; new Aotearoa New Zealand perioperative mortality tools; Choosing Wisely transition update; VPCC annual report; and pholcodine.

Safety alerts 

All alerts

Blood Matters report 

As part of the Blood Matters program, the Victorian Department of Health and Australian Red Cross Lifeblood have released the Serious Transfusion Incident Reporting program annual report for the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021. 

It includes 54 procedural events (including near misses) and 103 clinical reactions from Victoria, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. 

Reports are voluntary in nature and de-identified to protect patients, staff and health service confidentiality.   

Participating in the program assists health services to report haemovigilance data at both jurisdictional and national levels, with de-identified data reported to the National Haemovigilance Report. 

If your health service is not participating and wishes to, or you have any questions, please contact the Blood Matters secretariat on 03 9694 3523 or email:


On behalf of the Australian and New Zealand Anaesthetic Data Committee (ANZTADC), we would like to thank all the webAIRS registered users in Australia and New Zealand for contributing over 10,000 incidents since its inception 13 years ago. We express our gratitude to our committee members for their ongoing support of webAIRS, their involvement this year and their commitment in 2023. Season’s greetings and best wishes for the New Year. 

Are you contributing to quality anaesthesia? Visit the webAIRS website to register or email

New perioperative mortality tools in New Zealand 

The Perioperative Mortality Review Committee has released two new tools examining the safety of surgery in New Zealand and giving health care professionals access to highly detailed information about surgical outcomes. 

The perioperative mortality explorer is an interactive dashboard, which gives health professionals and researchers access to detailed data about surgical outcomes. In-depth information for the public about undergoing surgery in New Zealand has been presented as an infographic, and an accessible text version. 

Read more 

Choosing Wisely transition update 

Responsibility for the Choosing Wisely Australia initiative transitioned to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care on 1 December 2022.  

Existing Choosing Wisely recommendations as well as consumer and health professional resources will continue to be accessible from after this date. Every effort is being made to ensure continuity of the initiative during this transition. 

For further information regarding the future of Choosing Wisely Australia program, please contact  

Victorian Perioperative Consultative Council annual report 2021 

The Improving care, before, during and after surgery 2021 report contains data, trends, and identified improvements in perioperative care in Victoria based on cases reported and reviewed by the Victorian Perioperative Consultative Council

Read more 

European Medicines Agency recommends removal of pholcodine 

Cough medicines containing the chemical pholcodine should be banned due to the risk of potentially deadly allergic reactions in people under general anaesthetic, the European Union's drug regulator has said. 

The European Medicines Agency recommended that treatments containing pholcodine, which is used in adults and children to treat dry coughs, should be withdrawn from sale. 

ANZCA has regularly made representations to regulators in Australia and New Zealand that allowing pholcodine to be freely available over-the-counter confers an unacceptable risk to consumers with negligible benefit. 

A recent decision in New Zealand to reclassify pholcodine from pharmacy only to restricted (pharmacist only) will come into effect in June 2023. 

Read more 

Last updated 10:24 16.01.2023