For Patients

STS information for patients is created and maintained by members of the Society. Thoracic surgeons treat diseases of the chest including coronary artery disease; cancers of the lung, esophagus, and chest wall; abnormalities of the great vessels and heart valves; birth defects of the chest and heart; tumors in the organs contained in the chest cavity; and transplantation of the heart and lungs. New material will be added frequently on prevention, anatomy, recovery, and symptoms.

The Importance of Risk Adjustment

A relatively new term being discussed among those in the health care field is "risk adjustment." While risk adjustment is a complicated topic, it is basically a corrective tool used to level the playing field regarding the reporting of patient outcomes, adjusting for the differences in risk among specific patients. Risk adjustment also makes it possible to compare performance fairly. Comparing unadjusted event rates for different hospitals would unfairly penalize those performing operations on higher risk patients.

For example, if an 86-year-old female with diabetes undergoes bypass surgery, there is less chance for a good outcome when compared with a healthy 40-year-old male undergoing the same procedure. To take factors into account which influence outcomes, (for example, advanced age, emergency operation, previous heart surgery) a risk adjusted model is used to report surgery and mortality results.

The STS National Database, with its 3 million patient records, has long used risk adjustment to provide more accurate patient outcomes. If not risk adjusted, the records of surgeons who perform operations on higher-risk patients would be unfairly penalized.


Please send us questions and comments regarding the site. Unfortunately, we are not able to answer individual questions about medical conditions and procedures. This site is not meant as a substitute for the advice of a physician; we recommend that people with the conditions discussed consult a board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon.