Publication of surgeon specific outcome data: a review of implementation, controversies and the potential impact on surgical training

Int J Surg. 2015 Jan:13:211-216. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2014.11.049. Epub 2014 Dec 10.


Government-mandated publication of named surgeon-specific outcome data (SSD) has recently been introduced across nine surgical speciality areas in England. This move is the first time that such national data has been released in any country, and it promises to provide a significant advancement in health service transparency. Data is derived from nine preexisting national surgical audit databases. However, eight of these were not originally designed for this purpose, and there is considerable controversy surrounding data quality, risk adjustment, patient use and interpretation, and surgeons' subsequent case selection. Concerns also surround the degree to which these results truly reflect the individual consultant, or the wider hospital team and accompanying resources. The potential impact on surgical training has largely been overlooked. This paper investigated the background to SSD publication and controversies surrounding this, the potential impact on surgical training and the response to these concerns from medical and surgical leaders. As SSD collection continues to be refined, the most appropriate outcomes measurements need to be established, and risk adjustment requires ongoing improvement and validation. Prospective evaluation of changes in surgical training should be undertaken, as any degradation of will have both short and long-term consequences for patients and surgeons alike. It is important that the literature supporting the safety of supervised trainee practice is also promoted in order to counterbalance any potential concerns that might detract from trainee operating opportunities. Finally, it is important that outcomes data is communicated to patients in the most meaningful way in order to facilitate their understanding and interpretation given the complexities of the data and analysis involved.

Keywords: Education; Outcomes; Surgery; Training.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • England
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surgeons / education
  • Surgeons / statistics & numerical data*