International collaboration between The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) and the European Society of Thoracic Surgery (ESTS) will help improve the quality of patient care by linking outcomes data on chest procedures, beginning with lung cancer surgery, according to an article in the 'The Annals of Thoracic Surgery'.
The first task for researchers at STS and ESTS was to standardize the definitions and terminology used within their respective databases. Dr. Alessandro Brunelli, MD, from St James's University Hospital in Leeds, England, said, "That task represents a huge undertaking because it requires setting up a common language regarding collection of clinical information."
Members of the collaborative group are now examining patterns of care and outcomes for lung cancer surgery from the two databases. Outcomes from both databases are risk-adjusted, which means that they take into account conditions that affect results, like patient's age and existing health problems. Risk adjusted outcomes are important to measure a facility's or surgeon's performance, and also to identify which patients will be best treated by a particular procedure.
Felix G. Fernandez, MD, from Emory University said, "Our hope is that this collaboration will help identify best practices in lung cancer care in the US and Europe for better patient care worldwide. This collaboration has the potential to serve as an exemplar for global standardization of data collection."
These outcomes will be the central topic of discussion at a gathering during the STS 51st Annual Meeting in January in San Diego.
Dr. Brunelli said, "This project is particularly important in a specialty like thoracic surgery because we are a small community compared to other larger specialties. Increasing the pool of patient data on which to perform in-depth analyses is the only way we will be able to reliably assess our practices and produce robust guidelines to improve patient care and outcomes. Future collaboration and integration of our two databases could generate significant new knowledge and has the potential to boost quality of care initiatives on both continents."