Clinical Databases

UF Health surgeons draw on registries for critical insights

Clinical databases are important tools the UF Health department of surgery uses for quality monitoring and improvement.

Most service lines within the department contribute to and consult institutional, regional or national databases, or registries of information on practice methods and patient outcomes. The databases help surgeons understand the most statistically likely outcomes for each patient, based on factors such as patient age, diagnosis and health history. These registries also highlight trends in patient outcomes within the service line or per surgeon.

Steven Hughes, M.D., chief of general surgery

Steven Hughes, M.D.

The trends reveal opportunities for improvement that often spur surgeons to make small changes to enhance their practice.

“There is what we call a Hawthorne effect,” explained Steven Hughes, M.D., the department’s vice chair of quality and chief of general surgery. “Just by measuring something, you tend to improve it. Surgeons are very hungry to know, ‘How am I doing?’ We often just think about ‘What went wrong with the last patient that I cared for? Why did I have this complication? Could I do better or worse?’“But, they do it out of context of how they’re doing as a whole or how they would be expected to be doing. These standardized databases are powerful in that they tell us how we’re doing over a number of patients, versus how we would be expected to do in comparison to our peers, and not just in mortality but in specific complications, as well.”

Registries used by UF Health surgeons:

  • National Trauma Data Bank
  • Vascular Study Group Database
  • National Cancer Data Base
  • Tracking Operations and Outcomes for Plastic Surgeons
  • Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program database
  • National Burn Repository
  • Society of Thoracic Surgery Adult Cardiac Surgery Database
  • Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network database