Massachusetts Releases Death Rates For Cardiac Heart Surgeons

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Heart Surgeons Rates

The Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that the patient death rates for 56 Massachusetts heart surgeons will now be available online. The online data compares the mortality rates of individual surgeons performing coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery during the period from 2002-2004.

"Ultimately, people have the right to know the best data available on the performance of their doctors," said Director of DPH Healthcare Quality Paul Dreyer.

Of the 56 surgeons included in the data, two performed worse than expected, according to a statistical model developed by researchers at Harvard University. One performed better than expected.

The two surgeons with poorer than expected performance are not currently practicing in Massachusetts. Approximately 12,000 people in Massachusetts had cardiac bypass surgery from 2002-2004.

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The information about surgeons is similar to the information about hospital performance that has been public for three years. The mortality rates following bypass surgery have decreased from 2.19 percent in 2002 to 2.01 percent in 2004.

"The release of this information for consumers continues the Romney administration's objective to have meaningful and robust health care cost and quality data available to residents of the Commonwealth," said Health and Human Services Secretary Timothy Murphy. "The collaborative approach taken by DPH serves as a good model as we bring forward new health care information in the coming year."

Because the process of collecting, verifying and analyzing the data is complex and time-consuming, the data released today reflect the performance of surgeons from 2002-2004.

The data collection project is mandated by a state law passed in 2000 and is directed by Sharon-Lise Normand of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Normand assembled a group of senior cardiac surgeons to verify the accuracy of the surgery data and created an additional group of surgeons, interventionalists, and a consumer representative to review the surgeon-specific results.

"This reports uses state-of-the-art statistical methods to account for differences in the overall health of patients prior to their surgery and is vetted by the most experienced surgeons in the state," said Dr. Sharon-Lise Normand.

The data are being posted on the websites of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and Mass-DAC, the Harvard Medical School coordinating center that collects and analyzes the data. The data can be found at: www.mass.gov/healthcareqc

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