Aim To describe the initial pilot phase of the 2009 Scottish Audit of Surgical Mortality (SASM), which includes outcomes and difficulties that arose during any interventional radiology (IR) procedure performed on patients in this audit over an 18 month period. Materials and methods Approximately 40 consultant interventional radiologists from all units in Scotland elected to participate in the audit. Each response was then peer reviewed after anonymisation of the patient and institution. If a relevant ACON (area for consideration or area of concern) was generated, this was checked by one of the other reviewers before communication with the original reporting radiologist and colleagues. There was then a right of reply by the reporting unit before formal documentation was sent out. Results Initial results were analysed after 18 months period, during which time 95 forms relating to deaths of surgical inpatients were sent to interventional radiologists identified as having been involved in an IR procedure at some time during the patient’s admission. Seventy-one forms had been returned by July 2010, of which 46 had gone through the entire SASM process. From these, 10 ACONs were attributed. Anonymised case vignettes and reports from these were used as educational tools. Conclusion Involvement with SASM is a useful process. Significant safety issues and learning points were identified in the pilot. The majority of ACONs identified by the audit were in patients who had undergone percutaneous biliary interventions.