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J R Soc Med. 2015 Apr;108(4):127-35. doi: 10.1177/0141076815578652.

Should surgical outcomes be published?

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Kings College London, Urology Centre, Guys Hospital, London SE1 9RT, UK.
Department of Urology, Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London SE1 9RT, UK.
Kings College London, Urology Centre, Guys Hospital, London SE1 9RT, UK


Despite publishing surgical outcomes being a positive step forwards in the progression of England's healthcare system, it has no doubt been faced with criticism and reservations. This review article aims to discuss the pros and cons of publishing individual surgical outcomes, as well as the challenges faced. Publishing outcomes requires data from a number of sources such as national clinical audits, hospital episode statistics, patient-reported outcomes, registers and information from revalidation. As yet, eight surgical specialties have begun publishing their data, including cardiac (coronary artery bypass graft, valve and aortic surgery), endocrine (thyroidectomy, lobectomy, isthmusectomy), orthopaedic (hip and knee replacement), urological (full and partial nephrectomies, nephroureterectomy), colorectal (bowel tumour removal), upper gastrointestinal (stomach cancer and oesophageal cancer removal, bariatric surgery), ear, nose and throat surgery (larynx, oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx and salivary gland cancer removal), as well as vascular surgery (abdominal aortic aneurysm, carotid endarterectomy). However, not all procedures have been addressed. Despite the controversy surrounding the topic of publishing surgical outcomes, the advantages of reporting outcomes outweigh the disadvantages, and these challenges can be overcome, to create a more reliable, trustworthy and transparent NHS. Perhaps one of the main challenges has been the difficulty in collecting large amounts of clinically significant data able to quantify the performance of surgeons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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