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What’s the mortality rate for elective major artery surgery at your hospital?

For the first time the Vascular Society have reported the mortality rates from major artery surgery for hospitals in the UK. Here’s the data from the report for you to explore

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Your chances of surviving major artery surgery really do partly depend on which hospital you choose, a groundbreaking audit from the Vascular Society shows.

The first published audit from the Vascular Society has found that hospitals where surgeons carry out many AAA (abdominal aortic aneurysm) operations – to repair an artery in danger of rupture – have half the number of deaths of hospitals where the procedure is uncommon. The mortality rates go from zero (although these are sometimes units that do few AAAs and may not be taking complicated cases where the risk of death is higher) to 21%.

Here a graph of the mortality rates for all hospitals listed:

The findings are in line with those of a Guardian investigation in 2010. We used Freedom of Information requests to all hospitals in England carrying out AAA surgery and also found a massive disparity in death rates across the NHS, as well as a link between low volume and high mortality. And like the official audit, we found the quality of the data kept by hospitals was very variable too – some units were unable to give us much information at all on the the numbers of operations and numbers of deaths.

The new audit covers a later period than out investigation – from 2008 to 2010 – and both data collection and outcomes have improved overall. However, it is clear that there is a way to go and that planned surgery is safer in larger, specialist units.

Audits of other specialities will come and may well also show similar variable results.The coalition government has strongly promoted an agenda of data collection and transparency, led by medical director Sir Bruce Keogh, the former heart surgeon who was instrumental in getting the pioneering cardiac surgeons’ mortality database published. Publishing this data, Keogh believes, raises standards and allows patients to make informed choices about their treatment.

Here’s all the data from the vascular society report, including the number of patients in each hospital for open and endovascular (EVAR) repair and the total mortality rate. Let us know what you think in the comments.

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