Hospitals denying patients vital information

The Guardian newspaper today published the results of its investigation into heart surgeons. The newspaper used 36 simultaneous applications under the Freedom of Information Act to extract for the first time national data about the individual mortality rates of all cardiac surgeons practising in the NHS.

The exercise found:

  • One London teaching hospital where trust managers and the cardiac consultants cannot agree among themselves about which surgeon should be assigned responsibility for particular deaths;
  • Hospitals which diverted money the government allocated to improve record-keeping and risk assessment;
  • Hospitals that are unable to give risk-adjusted data, which would reveal to patients the proportion of high and low risk operations undertaken by surgeons.
  • Informed choice necessitates that patients have access to individual surgeons’ mortality data. You can read more about this in earlier posts.

    Hospitals deny patients facts on death rates
    Sarah Boseley, John Carvel and Rob Evans

    Ten years after the Bristol babies scandal, patients are still being denied the information they need to make an informed choice about heart surgery, a Guardian investigation has discovered.

    The Kennedy inquiry into the deaths of babies at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, following disciplinary action against two surgeons whose success rates were not as good as colleagues at other children’s heart units, prompted the government to demand in 2001 that adult heart surgeons make their death rates public.

    The information should have been available by last year, but many hospital trusts are still not collecting adequate data.
    more

    Leader: The heart of the matter
    Landmark step on the road to more openness
    The surgeon’s view

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