Assessment of mortality rates for congenital heart defects and surgeons' performance

Ann Thorac Surg. 2001 Jul;72(1):169-74; discussion 174-5. doi: 10.1016/s0003-4975(01)02689-3.


Background: In the absence of reliable national data, we have collected results of all operations for congenital heart defects from five departments to assess mortality rates and compare them among surgeons and departments.

Methods: Data relating to all operations (2,718) carried out at the five centers during a period from April 1, 1997 through March 31, 1999. Clearly defined criteria were agreed for the classification of patients into various subgroups.

Results: The overall hospital mortality was 4.4% (95% confidence intervals 3.7%-5.3%). Mortality for open-operations was 12.6% in neonates, 5.1% in infants, and 3.5% in children. Mortality rates were 1.1% for coarctation, 0.4% ventricular septal defect, 4.1% atrioventricular septal defect, 2.9% Fallot, 0.9% switch, and 15.6% truncus arteriosus. Although individual surgeons' mortality rates ranged from 1.8% to 7.5%, none of the 12 surgeons' data were above 95% confidence intervals. For individual surgeons, the change in mortality rates between the 2 years ranged between -3.3% and +3.8%.

Conclusions: With 2 years' data available, estimates of mortality rates are more precise as reflected by tighter confidence intervals. There were relatively small data sets for individual hospitals and surgeons, which made statistical evaluation difficult. For setting standards, data from more departments for a longer period will be required. Statistical methods alone cannot be used as a sole arbiter of what is considered acceptable performance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / mortality
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery*
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*
  • Survival Analysis