Heart patients will be able to check their surgeon's track record

  • @SteveAConnor

Patients waiting for heart surgery will be able to check the track record of cardiac surgeons and their hospitals on-line before their operation, the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery said yesterday.

Details of a surgeon’s past performance and the success rates of hospitals will be among a new range of health data that will be made available to patients undergoing heart operations, the society announced at its annual meeting in Brighton.

Previous scandals at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, where in the 1990s 35 babies died and many others were left permanently damaged by failures in cardiac surgery, and more recently the high death rates at Mid-Staffordshire hospital, have forced cardiac surgeons to be more open about their performances.

“It seems likely that the only effective way of preventing further gross failures of clinical governance is to have more widespread and transparent use of clinical outcomes data,” said James Roxburgh, president of the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Patients will be able to access a range of health statistics and data via a website called Blue Book Online which aims to increase the transparency of the profession, said Professor Ben Bridgewater, a cardiac surgeon at University Hospital of South Manchester.

“Information is integral to quality healthcare and we have seen an exponential increase in the amount of patients using the internet to find out more accurate and trusted detail about their care,” Professor Bridgewater said

“In a modernised NHS this is the ideal way for us to publish and keep up-to-date data of surgeons' and hospitals' clinical outcomes….It’s about creating a culture of transparency to make the profession act more in the patients’ best interests,” he said.

Since 2005, mortality data following cardiac surgery within all NHS hospitals, and about 80 per cent of surgeons, have been published on the website of the Care Quality Commission, which recently announced that the information should be updated and published by professional bodies such as the cardiothoracic society.