The links below will take you to quality and safety marker (QSM) information for the January–March 2016 quarter. You can download the full January–March QSM results as a PDF or view the commentary and interactive charts below.


Nationally, 86 percent of older patients* were given a falls risk assessment in quarter 1, 2016. It is the first time that this process marker dropped below the national target since five consecutive quarters where the 90 percent target was achieved. At the district health board (DHB) level, 13 out of 20 DHBs achieved the target. Results from Hutt Valley DHB, Hauora Tairawhiti, Southern DHB and Taranaki DHB are significantly lower than the national average (see Figure 1).

- Upper group: percentage >=90 percent
- Middle group: percentage is between 75–89 percent
- Lower group: percentage <75 percent
*Patients aged 75+ (55+ for Māori and Pacific peoples)

About 92 percent of patients at risk of falling received an individualised care plan. This measure has remained broadly consistent at 90 percent or above since quarter 4, 2014.

- Upper group: percentage >=90 percent
- Middle group: percentage is between 75–89 percent
- Lower group: percentage <75 percent

When assessments and care plans are plotted against each other, a trend of movement over time is shown from the bottom left corner (low assessment and care plan) to the top right corner (high assessment and care plan). Compared with only five DHBs sitting at the top right corner in quarter 1, 2013, in the current quarter, 13 DHBs are in this ‘ideal’ box. Some DHBs, for example Canterbury and Whanganui, overlap each other on the chart as they achieved the same result in both measures (see Figure 3).

There were 65 falls resulting in fractured neck of femur in the 12 months ending March 2016 (see Figure 4). There were 14 falls in quarter 1, 2016, an average of less than five falls per month, which continues the decrease seen since December 2014. The median of monthly falls reduced from eight to seven. This is the fourth quarter this outcome marker has shown a significant improvement.

This number of falls is significantly lower than the 109 falls we would have expected in this year, given the falls rate observed in the period from July 2010–June 2012. This reduction is estimated to have saved $2.1 million in the year ending March 2016 based on a comprehensive estimate of $47,000[1] for a fall with a fractured neck of femur.

However, this estimate may be too conservative, as it assumes all patients who fall and break their hip in hospital return home. We know that at least some of these patients are likely to be admitted to aged residential care on discharge from hospital. This is a far more expensive proposition – estimated at $135,000 a time[2]. If we conservatively estimate that 20 percent of the patients who avoided falls were admitted to a residential care facility, the reduction in falls represents $2.8 million in total avoidable costs.

Hand hygiene

National compliance with the five moments for hand hygiene remains high. Nationally, DHBs achieved an average of 81 percent compliance in quarter 1, 2016. All DHBs submitted 100 percent or more of the required hand hygiene data in this period.

- Upper group: percentage >=70 percent before Q3, 2014, and then 75 percent in Q3 and Q4, 2014, and then 80 percent since Q1, 2015
- Middle group: percentage is 60 percent to target
- Lower group: percentage <60 percent
- Hand hygiene national compliance data is reported on 3 times per annum, therefore no data point is shown specifically for Q4 in any year.

The run chart below shows a minor upward shift since January 2015 for the outcome measure for the hand hygiene programme. The median value of monthly healthcare associated Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia per 1000 bed-days increased from 0.12 to the end of 2014 to 0.14 in the period January to March 2016.

Surgical site infection

As the Commission uses 90-day outcome measures for surgical site infection, these data run one quarter behind other measures. Information in this section relates to quarter 4, 2015.

Process measure 1: Antibiotic administered in the right time

For primary procedures, an antibiotic should be administered in the hour before the first incision (‘knife to skin’). As this should happen in all primary cases, the threshold is set at 100 percent. In quarter 4, 2015, 97 percent of hip and knee arthroplasty procedures were given an antibiotic within 60 minutes before ‘knife to skin’. There has been a slow increase for the measure since the start of the programme. Five DHBs achieved the national goal.

- Upper group: percentage =100 percent
- Middle group: percentage is between 80–99 percent
- Lower group: percentage <80 percent

Process measure 2: Right antibiotic in the right dose – cefazolin 2g or more or cefuroxime 1.5g or more

In quarter 1, 2015, 1.5g or more of cefuroxime was accepted as an alternative agent to cefazolin 2g or more for routine antibiotic prophylaxis for hip and knee replacements. It improved the results of this process measure for MidCentral DHB significantly from 10 percent before the change to 96 percent immediately after the change. Nationally, this measurement also increased from 90 percent to 95 percent in quarter 1, 2015. Fourteen DHBs reached the threshold level of 95 percent compared with only three in the baseline quarter. Taranaki DHB’s results for this measure remain significantly lower than the target rate.

- Upper group: percentage >=95 percent
- Middle group: percentage is between 80–94 percent
- Lower group: percentage <80 percent

Process measure 3: Appropriate skin antisepsis in surgery using alcohol/chlorhexidine or alcohol/povidone iodine
Skin preparation using either chlorhexidine or povidone iodine in alcohol is recommended for all orthopaedic procedures, so the threshold is set at 100 percent. Appropriate skin antisepsis is clearly normal practice across DHBs as the rounded national compliance rate of 100 percent attests. This is a five percentage point increase from the baseline.

- Upper group: percentage =100 percent
- Middle group: percentage is between 80–99 percent
- Lower group: percentage <80 percent

Compared with the baseline surgical site infection rate of 1.5 percent in quarter 3, 2013, when 1747 hip and knee arthroplasty procedures were recorded, quarter 4, 2015 showed some improvement. DHBs recorded 2555 operations, a 46 percent increase on the number of procedures performed compared with the baseline. Twenty surgical site infections were reported, an infection rate of 0.8 percent in this quarter, which is a 0.4 percent reduction compared with the median. However, the improvement in rate has not been stable enough to indicate a shift on the run chart below. It is still too early to confirm a statistically significant, sustained change.

Safe surgery (previously perioperative harm)

A new quality and safety marker aimed at measuring levels of teamwork and communication was rolled out during the 2015–16 financial year. The first public reporting will be in December 2016 on data for quarter 3, 2016.

The postoperative sepsis rate is one of the outcome markers for safe surgery. The number of sepsis cases per year increased from 509 in 2009 to 650 in 2015. To understand the factors driving these changes and to provide risk-adjusted outcomes in the monitoring and improvement of surgical quality and safety, we developed a risk-adjustment model[3].

This model is used to identify how likely patients being operated on were to develop sepsis based on their conditions, health history, the operation being undertaken and so forth. From this, we can calculate how many patients we would have predicted develop sepsis based on historic trends. We can then compare how many actually did to create an observed/expected (O/E) ratio. If the O/E ratio is more than 1 then there are more sepsis cases than expected, even allowing for the risk of the patient, while a ratio of less than 1 indicates fewer sepsis cases than expected.

Figure 12 is the control chart of the O/E ratio. It shows that there are no statistically significant changes in the ratio, which means that changes in the observed number of sepsis cases reflect high-risk patients treated by hospitals and more complex procedures undertaken by hospitals.

Medication safety

We introduced a quality and safety marker for medication safety in September 2014. It focuses on medicine reconciliation – a process by which health care professionals ensure all medicines a patient is taking and their adverse reactions history (including allergy) are accurately documented and the information is used across health care. An accurate medicines list can be reviewed to ensure medicines are appropriate and safe.

Medicines which should be continued, stopped or temporarily stopped can be documented on the list. Doing this reduces the risk of medicines being:

  • omitted
  • prescribed at the wrong dose
  • prescribed to a patient who is allergic
  • prescribed which has the potential to interact with other prescribed medicines

The introduction of electronic medicine reconciliation (eMR) will enable medicine reconciliation to be done more routinely and including at discharge. There is a national programme to roll-out eMR throughout the country; five DHBs have implemented the system currently.

Figure 13: Structure marker, implementation of eMR 

Structure marker, implementation of eMR

Figure 14: Structure markers

Structure markers

Within these five DHBs, Northland DHB and Taranaki DHB are able to produce the results of these process measures. Canterbury DHB has implemented the system recently and it will provide data for the next quarter report. The other two DHBs are in the process of system upgrades and were unable to report this quarter.

Structure markers

Local DHB report

Using the interactive charts (below) to read individual QSM results for each DHB.

  • Use the drop-down box on the homepage below to access a list of DHBs.
  • Select your DHB.
  • Use the tabs along the top to look at reports on falls and SSI over time.
  • Return to the homepage to select a different DHB.
  • Results can be downloaded as a PDF by using the 'download' button on the bottom right of each page.


  1. de Raad J-P. 2012. Towards a value proposition: scoping the cost of falls. Wellington: NZIER.
  2. Ibid
  3. In the logistic regression model, postoperative sepsis is the dependent variable, and the health and clinical conditions within 12 months prior to the surgical room procedure, the information about the surgical room procedure and the demographic information of the patient are the independent variables. A stepwise SAS procedure is used to select significant factors. The final model shows that the most significant factors are information about the surgical room procedure. Procedures of pancreas, kidney and small intestine are the most significant factors driving sepsis. Patients admitted through acute admission are more likely to develop sepsis compared with arranged admission or admitted from waiting list. Health and clinical conditions in the 12 months prior to the surgical room procedure, such as the clinical complicity level, Charlson Comorbidity score and ICU stay of the patient in hospital events in that period are also important. From demographic characteristics, male, aged 50 and plus living in the deprived areas are more likely to develop postoperative sepsis compared with other demographic groups. Based on those risk factors, a predicted probability of sepsis is calculated for each room procedure, and then it is summed as an expected number of sepsis over time. An O/E ratio is calculated using observed number of sepsis divided by expected number of sepsis per month.

Last updated 30/06/2016