Dr. Fernandez Co-Leads Linkage of US and European Thoracic Surgery Databases

March 2015

Emory cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Felix Fernandez is spearheading an effort with Dr. Alessandro Brunelli from St. James's University Hospital in Leeds, England, to link lung cancer surgery outcomes data from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons General Thoracic Surgery Database (STS-GTSD) and the European Society of Thoracic Surgery (ESTS) Database.

"Our hope is that this collaboration will help identify best practices in lung cancer care in the US and Europe for better patient care worldwide, which has the potential to serve as an exemplar for global standardization of data collection," says Dr. Fernandez.

Outcomes from both databases are risk-adjusted—thereby taking into account conditions that affect results, such as a patient's age and existing health problems—and can measure a facility's or surgeon's performance and identify those patients that will benefit most from a particular procedure.

After several years of informal discussion and a recent collaborative process, STS and ESTS have standardized the definitions and terminology used across their respective databases. Members of the collaborative group are now examining patterns of care and outcomes for lung cancer surgery.

"By establishing a common language, we are combining our experiences to better understand each other's processes and outcomes, which will foster clinical research collaboration across the continents and disseminate important findings faster," says Dr. Fernandez.

"This project is particularly important in a specialty like thoracic surgery because we are a small community compared to other larger specialties," says Dr. Brunelli. "Increasing the pool of patient data on which to perform in-depth analyses is the only way we will be able to reliably assess our practices and produce robust guidelines to improve patient care and outcomes. Future collaboration and integration of our two databases could generate significant new knowledge and has the potential to boost quality of care initiatives on both continents."