Cardiac surgical report cards have historically been mandatory. This paradigm changed when The Society of Thoracic Surgeons recently implemented a voluntary public reporting program based on benchmark analyses from its National Cardiac Database. The primary rationale is to provide transparency and accountability, thus affirming the fundamental ethical right of patient autonomy. Previous studies suggest that public reporting facilitates quality improvement, although other approaches such as confidential feedback of results and regional quality improvement initiatives are also effective. Public reporting has not substantially impacted patient referral patterns or market share. However, this may change with implementation of healthcare reform and with refinement of public reporting formats to enhance consumer interpretability. Finally, the potential unintended adverse consequences of public reporting must be monitored, particularly to assure that hospitals and surgeons remain willing to care for high-risk patients.
Copyright © 2011 The Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.