Hospital episode statistics (HES) are not satisfactory for the assessment of activity and outcomes in congenital heart surgery, a study has shown.
Researchers looked at HES data for paediatric cardiac surgical outcomes from congenital heart surgery centres in England compared with corresponding information from the UK central cardiac audit database (CCAD).
Data covered the period from April 2000 to March 2002 and researchers used mortality within 30 days of open heart surgery in infants aged under 12 months as the main outcome measure.
When data was sufficient for a direct comparison, HES omitted between 5% and 38% of infants and underestimated the number of deaths by an average of 40% compared with CCAD.
Researchers also warned that CCAD may also underestimate the number of deaths.
BMJ Online First