Continuous monitoring of surgical outcomes through benchmarking and the identification of best practices has become increasingly important. A structured approach to data collection, coupled with validation, analysis and reporting, is a powerful tool in these endeavours. However, inconsistencies in standards and practices have made comparisons within and between European countries cumbersome. The European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (EACTS) has established a large international database with the goals of (i) working with other organizations towards universal data collection and creating a European-wide repository of information on the practice of cardio-thoracic surgery, and (ii) disseminating that information in scientific, peer-reviewed articles. We report on the process of data collection, as well as on an overview of the data in the database.METHODS:
The EACTS Database Committee met for the first time in Monaco, September 2002, to establish the ground rules for the process of setting up the database. Subsequently, data have been collected and merged by Dendrite Clinical Systems Ltd.RESULTS:
As of December 2008, the database included 1 074 168 patient records from 366 hospitals located in 29 countries. The latest submission from the years 2006-08 included 404 721 records. The largest contributors were the UK (32.0%), Germany (20.9%) and Belgium (7.3%). Isolated coronary bypass surgery was the most frequently performed operation; the proportion of surgical workload that comprised isolated coronary artery bypass grafting varied from country to country: 30% in Spain and almost 70% in Denmark. Isolated valve procedures constituted 12% of all procedures in Norway and 32% in Spain. Baseline demographics showed an increase in the mean age and the percentage of patients that were female over time. Remarkably, the mortality rates for all procedures declined over the period analysed, to 2.2% (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.2-2.3%) for isolated coronary bypass, 3.4% (95% CI 3.3-3.5%) for isolated valve and 6.2% (95% CI 6.0-6.5%) for bypass + valve procedures.CONCLUSION:
The EACTS database has proven to be an important step forward in providing opportunities for monitoring cardiac surgical care across Europe. As the database continues to expand, it will facilitate research projects, establish benchmarking standards and identify potential areas for quality improvements.