Despite nearly universal awareness of report cards on risk-adjusted mortality rates of individual cardiac surgeons, cardiologists in New York State do not use these reports when making patient referral decisions. This is the main conclusion of a survey analysis led by David L. Brown, MD, Professor Medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine. The findings are published online in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
Dr. Brown and coauthors of the paper, "Influence of Cardiac Surgeon Report Cards on Patient Referral by Cardiologists in New York State After 20 Years of Public Reporting," detailed their findings of the survey analysis, which included responses from 317 New York cardiologists in 2011.
They found that only 25 percent of the cardiologists indicated the report cards had a "moderate" or "substantial" influence on referral decisions. Additionally, the discussion of the report card data with patients remained minimal, as 71 percent of the cardiologists indicated that they did not discuss the reports with patients. The authors also concluded in the analysis that "most cardiologists are not referring their patients to the best available surgeon, and many are not referring their patients to the surgeon to whom they would refer a family member."
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