Current system unlikely to pick up surgeons with above average patient death rates – EurekAlert (press release)


Publishing the patient death rates of individual surgeons in England is unlikely to pick up those whose mortality rates are above average, because the caseload varies so much, concludes the first analysis of its kind published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Performance within the ‘expected’ range is too crude a measure to detect doctors whose practice might be a cause for concern, and is therefore creating a false sense of security, say the researchers.

When the patient death rates for individual surgeons were first published in June 2013, the move was hailed as a major breakthrough in transparency that would drive up standards of care in England.

But the chances of detecting a surgeon whose death rates are worse than the national average is a question of statistical power, say the researchers: in other words, the greater the caseload, the greater the ability to detect…



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