Accurate, complete data is now the expectation of patients, families, payers, government, and even media. It has become an obligation of those practising congenital cardiac surgery. Appropriately, major professional organizations worldwide are assuming responsibility for the data quality in their respective registry databases.
The purpose of this article is to review the current strategies used for verification of the data in the congenital databases of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, The European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, and The United Kingdom Central Cardiac Audit Database. Because the results of the initial efforts to verify data in the congenital databases of the United Kingdom and Europe have been previously published, this article provides a more detailed look at the current efforts in North America, which prior to this article have not been published. The discussion and presentation of the strategy for the verification of data in the congenital heart surgery database of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons is then followed by a review of the strategies utilized in the United Kingdom and Europe. The ultimate goal of sharing the information in this article is to provide information to the participants in the databases that track the outcomes of patients with congenitally malformed hearts. This information should help to improve the quality of the data in all of our databases, and therefore increase the utility of these databases to function as a tool to optimise the management strategies provided to our patients.
The need for accurate, complete and high quality Congenital Heart Surgery outcome data has never been more pressing. The public interest in medical outcomes is at an all time high and “pay for performance” is looming on the horizon. Information found in administrative databases is not risk or complexity adjusted, notoriously inaccurate, and far too imprecise to evaluate performance adequately in congenital cardiac surgery. The Society of Thoracic Surgeons and European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery databases contain the elements needed for assessment of quality of care provided that a mechanism exists within these organizations to guarantee the completeness and accuracy of the data. The Central Cardiac Audit Database in the United Kingdom has an advantage in this endeavour with the ability to track and verify mortality independently, through their National Health Service.
A combination of site visits with “Source Data Verification”, in other words, verification of the data at the primary source of the data, and external verification of the data from independent databases or registries, such as governmental death registries, may ultimately be required to allow for optimal verification of data. Further research in the area of verification of data is also necessary. Data must be verified for both completeness and accuracy.