The ethics of publishing surgeon performance information

Project Title:

An ethical analysis of the disclosure of surgeons’ performance data to patients within the informed consent process.

NHMRC Project Grant 2003-05 ($140,000).

Investigators:

Justin Oakley, Steve Clark and Helga Kuhse.

Summary:

This project aims to develop a new model of the informed consent process, which enables patients to incorporate information about the comparative performance of surgeons, in an ethically acceptable manner. The project also aims to determine what concerns patients and practitioners might have about the release of performance information, and to reveal how different models of disclosure might affect patient decision-making, and practitioner-patient relationships.

Outcomes:

Publications:

Informed Consent and Clinician Accountability The Ethics of Report Cards on Surgeon Performance, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2007 (edited by Justin Oakley and Steve Clarke).

A number of journal articles have been published on this research. Further details will be available here shortly.

Workshops:

On 16-17 November 2004, the Centre for Human Bioethics, in conjunction with the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, ran a workshop on Publicising performance data on individual surgeons: the ethical issues.

Fourteen papers were presented at the workshop, which was divided into seven sections, focusing on surgeons’ perspectives, defensive medicine, implementation issues, informed consent, report cards in market-based health care systems, patients’ perspectives, and a concluding section on policy issues. The workshop featured papers by Joe Ibrahim and Silvana Marasco, Tony Eyers, Yujin Nagasawa, Justin Oakley, Steve Bolsin, Steve Clarke, David Neil, Merle Spriggs, Adrian Walsh, Neil Levy, Merrilyn Walton, David Macintosh, Mike Parker, and Ian Freckelton.

The workshop was generously supported by the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. A detailed report on the workshop is available at:http://www.assa.edu.au/policy/papers/2005/surgeons.htm Revised versions of many of the workshop papers are included in Informed Consent and Clinician Accountability The Ethics of Report Cards on Surgeon Performance, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Awards:

Justin and Steve were awarded the 2004 Australian Catholic University Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics for their work on this project.

For more information, please contact Justin Oakley.