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Need for a standardised procedure classification system in global surgery
  1. Ainhoa Costas-Chavarri1,2,
  2. John G Meara3,4
  1. 1Human Resources for Health Program, Rwanda
  2. 2Department of Surgery, Rwanda Military Hospital, Kigali, Rwanda
  3. 3Kletjian Professor of Global Surgery, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ainhoa Costas-Chavarri; noabelles{at}

Statistics from

‘The advantages of a uniform statistical nomenclature, however imperfect, are so obvious, that it is surprising no attention has been paid to its enforcement…’1William Farr, British Medical Statistician, 1839

While the WHO's International Classification of Diseases (ICD) has become the standard diagnostic tool for describing diseases and injuries,2 there is no equivalent classification system for surgical procedures and interventions that is universally accepted. Why is this important? Estimates reveal that roughly one-third of the global disease burden requires surgical and/or anaesthetic care, but these are only estimates.3 The main reason is the dearth of data regarding surgical conditions and interventions, especially in low income and middle income countries (LMICs).

Currently, obtaining data on surgical interventions, including those performed by international organisations, often entails wading through years of aggregate hospital statistics, operating room logs or other paper records, which exist in a multitude of varying formats, classification schema and languages.4 Even when available, there is wide variability in the data being collected, as well as significant inconsistencies in the classification of procedures and pathologies requiring surgical intervention.5 Indeed, the lack of standardised data collection and processing at the local, …

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