Importing Quality Measures?

In an effort to one-up CMS (kidding), the NHS will publish surgical mortality rates on their NHS Choices website.

From the Guardian:

The government is preparing to publish for the first time the death rates of patients undergoing major surgery at NHS hospitals in England, the Guardian has learned.

The move will expose alarming variations in the mortality rates of NHS trusts carrying out commonplace procedures, including hip and knee replacements and surgery of the oesophagus and abdominal aorta, the main blood vessel.

It will be the first time anywhere in the world that a government has systematically exposed the work of rival hospital teams, giving patients an opportunity to choose to be treated where their lives are least at risk.

The thinking:

Ministers think publication of the figures will drive up standards by forcing trusts to improve performance or withdraw from medical specialties at which they do not excel.

The future:

At this stage the published data will give results for hospital units, not individual surgeons. But Ben Bradshaw, the health minister, has instructed that the NHS Choices website should eventually let patients compare the performance of individual surgeons and GPs, heralding a big switch in the balance of medical power in favour of the patient.

Disclosure of the mortality data of hospitals will be followed by the publication of a wider range of indicators showing the outcome of treatments across many branches of medicine.

The take away:

[NHS Medical Director Sir Bruce] Keogh added: “Some will squeal that the data is not good enough, but the only way we can improve it is by using it.

“The writing has been on the wall since the inquiry into the deaths of children at Bristol Royal Infirmary 10 years ago, [which showed how poor practice was allowed to persist because the mortality rates were not disclosed]. There has been a lot of talk about more openness, but we as a profession have not made much progress. So I am now inviting the institutions of medicine to step up to the plate and help us accelerate the process. We want their help.”

(Complete) Transparency is coming…

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