Commissioner orders release of clinical outcomes (mortality rates) of all surgeons

The NHS has been ordered to publish details of the death rates of individual surgeons after the Scottish Information Commissioner decided that such information should be made available to the public. To date the health service has been reluctant to release such figures arguing that they may be open to misinterpretation. Officials insisted that the best surgeons often take on the trickiest cases and could have lower survival rates.

Some hospitals in England have independently published individual information about surgeons' mortality rates and several more are considering it after requests under the Freedom of Information Act. Kevin Dunion has now recommended the publication of such information in Scotland. He said that since the information was not technical, the general public was perfectly capable of interpreting it.

According to the Scotsman, surgeons have given a cautious welcome to the ground-breaking ruling forcing them to publish their "death rate" figures.

Surgeon death rates in spotlight (BBC News, 9 December 2005)
Surgeons welcome 'death rate' lists (The Scotsman, 10 December 2005)
Plea over surgeons' patient survival records (Evening Times, 9 December 2005)

Decision 066/2005 – Mr Peter MacMahon of The Scotsman and the Common Services Agency for the Scottish Health Service (Scottish Information Commissioner's website)