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Public Reporting of Heart Surgery Outcomes Data

Clinical outcomes data for coronary-artery bypass grafting (CABG) procedures at 221 US cardiac surgery programmes are now available to consumers.

Published by Consumers Union, the report includes a three-star rating system that is based on risk-adjusted CABG surgery outcomes data from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) Adult Cardiac Surgery Database. More than 90% of the 1100 US heart surgery programmes participate in this registry, which began in 1989.

In addition, participating hospitals are given zero-to-100-point scores for 30-day survival, complications, use of appropriate medications, and surgical technique.

While the report offers greater healthcare transparency and accountability, Ferris and Torchiana have pointed out a number of limitations1:

  • Potential for selection bias—the 221 programs that have volunteered to have their results published represent only about 20% of those in the US
  • Lack of long-term outcomes
  • Lack of physician-specific ratings

The ratings are available in the October issue of Consumer Reports and online at the Consumer Reports Health website.


  1. Ferris TG, Torchiana DF. Public Release of Clinical Outcomes Data—Online CABG Report Cards. N Engl J Med 2010; DOI:10.1056/NEJMp1009423.

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