Thoracic surgery team achieves highly coveted ranking for lung, esophageal cancer outcomes

Photo of surgery

Only the most elite programs garner 3-star ratings from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

The UT Health San Antonio Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery has earned a distinguished three-star rating from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) for its patient care and lung and esophageal cancer resection outcomes. The three-star rating, which denotes the highest category of quality, places the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery among the elite for general thoracic surgery in the United States and Canada.

The STS star rating system is one of the most sophisticated and highly regarded overall measures of quality in health care, rating the benchmarked outcomes of cardiothoracic surgery programs in the United States and Canada. The General Thoracic Surgery Database (GTSD) star ratings are derived by testing whether the participant’s composite or domain score is significantly different from the overall STS average for lobectomy for lung cancer and esophagectomy for esophageal cancer performed by GTSD participants.

STS General Thoracic Surgery Public Reporting offers a comparison of GTSD and national outcomes, demonstrating the high performance of GTSD participants. The latest analysis of data for the GTSD covers a three-year period, from July 2018 to June 2021, and includes 214 participants.

Photo of Daniel DeArmond, MD, UT Health San Antonio
Daniel T. DeArmond, MD

“Very few thoracic programs achieve this,” said Daniel T. DeArmond, MD, chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery, associate professor and associate residency program director in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery. “The 214 programs nationwide that currently report to the General Thoracic Surgery Database are mostly academic, high-volume centers. Consistently fewer than 10% of these programs in any given reporting period will earn a three-star rating in any of the three examined arenas.”

The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery achieved three-star ratings in both lobectomy (in the major complications area) and esophagectomy. Earning two three-star ratings in the same period is even rarer. Lobectomy is employed for lung cancers that are limited to a small area of the lung. Esophagectomy treats diseases of the esophagus including cancer.

“This is a reflection of our awesome team’s work from the pre-operative clinic to the operating room, to post-operatively on the floor including early removal of chest tubes, to encouragement of return to full activity on discharge, to talking with patients on the phone after they go home, to follow up in clinic visits,” Dr. DeArmond said.

Photo of John H. Calhoon, MD, UT Health San Antonio
John H. Calhoon, MD

The value of exemplary data collection in this achievement cannot be overstated, said John H. Calhoon, MD, professor and chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery. “If data are not meticulously collected, recorded and submitted, there is no star rating,” Dr. Calhoon said. “Our thoracic data manager, Nitin Das, deserves a huge round of applause for these efforts.”

Related news: Dr. John Calhoon announced as new president of STS

“The Society of Thoracic Surgeons congratulates STS National Database participants who have received three-star ratings,” said David M. Shahian, MD, chair of the Workforce on Quality. “Participation in the database and public reporting demonstrates a commitment to quality improvement in health care delivery and provides patients and their families with meaningful information to help them make informed decisions about health care.”

The STS National Database was established in 1989 as an initiative for quality improvement and patient safety among cardiothoracic surgeons. The Database includes four components: the Adult Cardiac Surgery Database (ACSD), the Congenital Heart Surgery Database (CHSD), the GTSD, and the mechanical circulatory support database (Intermacs).

The General Thoracic Surgery Database — the largest and most robust clinical thoracic surgical database in the United States and Canada — contains more than 616,000 general thoracic surgery procedure records and has approximately 1,000 participating physicians. Almost 45% of GTSD participants are currently enrolled in public reporting.

Scott Johnson, MD, photo
Scott Johnson, MD

Dr. DeArmond credited Scott Johnson, MD, associate professor who leads esophageal surgery in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery. Dr. Johnson is nationally recognized as an expert in performing complex esophageal surgery including resection of esophageal cancers, redoing previously failed anti-reflux procedures, repairing large hernias of the diaphragm, performing esophageal reconstructions including colon interpositions, and treating end-stage achalasia (difficulty passing food into the stomach).

The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery is part of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. The three-star rating is an example of UT Health San Antonio’s commitment to quality patient care that saves lives and lowers health care costs, returning care recipients to the workforce and their daily lives.

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