CA rates cardiac surgeons by name

For the first time, California consumers can find out how individual cardiac surgeons fare on coronary bypass procedures. In a new report, the state has listed bypass death rates for 121 hospitals and 302 heart surgeons. The data is drawn from adult bypasses performed between Jan. 1, 2003 and Dec. 31, 2004. Hospital fees paid for the $1.5 million report, which was mandated by the state legislature in 2003. A prior report released cardiac bypass death rates at specific hospitals across the state.

The research found 95 percent of heart surgeons generally were in line with the expected mortality average of 3.08 percent, though of course some surgeons looked much worse and some much better. Those who got the short end of the stick, as you'd expect, were quick to note their patients were older and sicker than other surgeons would accept. Some of these surgeons are now saying they'll avoid the sickest patients with the most complicated cases to avoid getting a black eye in similar studies in the future. But public policy analysts say if risk adjustments are done properly, the patient mix shouldn't affect a surgeon's overall scores.

To learn more about this report:
- read this San Diego Union-Tribune article

PLUS:  Could surgeon rankings cause them to avoid the sickest patients completely, leaving such patients with nowhere to turn? Column

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