In the 1980s, journalists used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain data on individual cardiac surgeons’ surgical outcomes from the New York State Department of Health. A recent JAMA article discusses that type of data and takes the position that despite its limitations, the data should be publicly reported.
Debate Surrounding Reporting of Individual Surgeons’ Outcomes
The debate centers on whether data should be reported on the hospital level only or also reported as to individual surgeons.
According to the article, several objections to reporting data relating to individual surgeons have been raised.
First, an individual surgeon may perform a low number of procedures, possibly leading to an unreliable measure of performance. However, the author notes that performance can be aggregated across multiple years or a surgeon’s performance across a range of procedures can be used. Also, the data can be presented in a way that highlights the statistical limitations.