Rates of survival for heart surgery

February 2017

General Practitioners

Country of origin: UK

The Care Quality Commission and the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery have a website with information on outcomes of heart surgery.

The Commission and the Society say the initiative is a groundbreaking advance in the provision of information about healthcare for patients.

They are releasing information that makes the necessary adjustments for the fact that some patients are more likely to survive than others, depending on the type of operation and factors such as age, severity of illness and other medical problems. This will temper widely held concerns that simply publishing survival or death rates without any adjustments would deter surgeons from operating on higher risk patients with lower chances of survival.

The Commission and the Society have tried to present the information in the most accessible form possible, consulting patients and their representatives through the British Heart Foundation.

Patients and the public will see a survival rate for each unit or surgeon by reference to the range of performance expected. Results falling below this range would be seen as unusual and in need of further investigation.

The figures have been adjusted to take account of the risks involved in the surgery, using what is known as the EuroSCORE model. This model covers 17 risk factors and is an internationally established method for predicting survival from cardiac surgery taking into account other factors affecting the health of the patient.

Looking at the whole of England and Wales, survival rates following all types of heart surgery are better than expected. The website shows that all units and surgeons who have contributed their data have results which are within or better than the expected range.

The Commission and the Society created the website to inform patients about the quality of services in the NHS. In the case of heart surgery, the services are of high quality with good outcomes. They urge people making choices about treatment to take account of this and other information and seek advice from their doctor.

This is an important move in increasing information available to patients and the public about clinical outcomes. It is designed to empower patients so that they can make more informed decisions about their treatment. It will also help to promote improvement by allowing units and individuals to assess themselves against others.

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