Ten vascular surgeons to have safety review

Scrubbing in

Ten vascular surgeons are to have their work reviewed to investigate whether they have been performing operations at an acceptably safe level.

This follows the path-breaking publication of data on death rates for individual hospital consultants who conduct surgery on major blood vessels.

Last week I wrote about the fact that several surgeons were now to be flagged with an "alert" within the vascular surgery monitoring system.

Following corrections to the initial dataset which contained some errors, we now know an alert will be raised for seven surgeons due to their comparatively bad record on repairing abdominal aortic aneurysms, a highly dangerous bulge in the aorta.

Another three vascular surgeons will receive an alert flag due to their poor results on a different procedure, to correct the narrowing of an artery in the neck (carotid endarterectomy).

Start Quote

Adjustment is based on the patients' age and gender and the surgical procedure”

End Quote

It is not possible to identify with certainty who the surgeons are. This decision to scrutinise the work of those with the worst record is based on data which is risk-adjusted (and unpublished), not on the raw figures for mortality rates which have been released for each consultant.

And I can reply to some of the issues that were raised in the comments on my previous piece.

It is correct to say that the data only covers planned surgery, not emergency operations which naturally have much higher death rates.

As I have noted, the individual figures for each surgeon are not risk-adjusted, but the data used in the graphs which compare surgeons is. The adjustment is based on the patients' age and gender and the surgical procedure. Due to gaps in the data it did not reflect the patients' conditions.

Some vascular surgeons are very uneasy about the reliability of the risk-adjustment process, but the Royal College of Surgeons Clinical Effectiveness Unit maintains that this model works well. There are plans to improve data collection and risk-adjustment in future.

The policy on the threshold for when an alert should be triggered, and a surgeon's work reviewed, is set by the Royal College of Surgeons and the Vascular Society.

It is also worth noting that death rates for surgery on abdominal aortic aneurysms have improved considerably in the past few years. This follows a concerted quality improvement drive by the Vascular Society after a 2008 report which found that the UK's record then was poor compared to many other European countries.

Martin Rosenbaum Article written by Martin Rosenbaum Martin Rosenbaum Freedom of information specialist

How do restaurant chains compare for food hygiene?

A BBC analysis shows wide variation in the hygiene ratings of different restaurant chains. About one third of Dixy Chicken and Chicken Cottage outlets are unsatisfactory.

Read full article

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    These lists, for internal use by regulators, is a good thing...

    ...releasing them to the general public is asking for the public to misinterpret...

    ....take school League Tables - a school in a poor area with a "satisfactory" rating is probably a better bet for your child, whatever their ability, than a school in a rich area rated "good"....

    ...but try telling any parents that....


Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • GeoguessrWhere in the world...?

    Think you are a geography expert? Test your knowledge with BBC Travel’s interactive game


  • StudentsClick Watch

    Could a new social network help tailor lessons to students’ needs and spot when they fall behind?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.