More than 1,000 U.S. hospitals perform heart surgery, and about 60 percent voluntarily share their complication and mortality rates with Consumer Reports or the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), the professional group for physicians who operate on the heart or chest.

That’s a good start, and up from 2014, when we first published heart hospital ratings. But it also means that many hospitals still don’t make heart surgery success rates readily available to patients.

That’s a problem, says David Shahian, M.D., who oversees data and quality measures at the STS.

Public reporting not only provides vital information to patients about where to get heart surgery but also encourages hospitals to improve, “by comparing them to their peers and showing them where they are falling short,” he says. “We believe transparency and sharing your outcomes is a professional ethical responsibility.”

We contacted these 23 hospitals that perform a large number of heart surgeries but don’t publically report through STS or Consumer Reports to ask why not—and if they would share results with us, and with patients.

  • Arkansas Heart Hospital, Little Rock, AR
  • Baptist Memorial Hospital, Memphis, TN
  • Christiana Care Health System, Newark, DE
  • Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH *
  • Florida Hospital, Orlando, FL*
  • Forrest General Hospital, Hattiesburg, MS
  • Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, NJ*
  • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA*
  • Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX
  • Kansas Heart Hospital, Wichita, KS
  • Leesburg Regional Medical Center, Leesburg, FL
  • Mayo Clinic Hospital, Rochester, MN*
  • Methodist Hospital, San Antonio, TX
  • Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miami Beach, FL
  • New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Wilmington, NC
  • Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Gainesville, GA*
  • NorthShore University Health System, Evanston, IL
  • OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, Columbus, OH
  • Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA*
  • Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Hartford, CT
  • St. Vincent's Medical Center Riverside, Jacksonville, FL
  • The University of Vermont Health Network University of Vermont Medical Center, Burlington, VT
  • University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, MD*

* This hospital does not currently make its data publicly available but has committed to doing so in the next update.

What Hospitals Say About Heart Surgery Success Rates

Some hospitals, such as the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said they missed the deadline. One, Kansas Heart Hospital in Wichita, told us that it doesn’t report due to the costs of belonging to the STS database, which usually come to several thousand dollars per year.

Note that some hospitals, including prominent hospitals such as  Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, do provide heart surgery success rates to STS, and make it available on the STS website, but don't consent to publish that information through Consumer Reports.

Providing patients with that information should be a priority for any facility, especially those with national standing, says Doris Peter, Ph.D., director of Consumer Reports’ Health Ratings Center. “Hospitals that do these procedures likely profit nicely from them, and I would expect them to invest some of that into improving quality and sharing data with the public.”

How to Get the Data You Need

Shahian says that if the hospital you’re considering doesn’t share its data with Consumer Reports or STS, try to get that information on your own.

But calling the hospital directly isn’t the best bet: When we tried that at several hospitals, the staff wasn’t able to connect us with the right person to answer our questions.

Instead, Shahian recommends asking your surgeon these questions:

  • Does the hospital where you perform surgery participate in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons database?
  • If so, how does it perform in the STS ratings, and would you be willing to go over their most recent report with me?

If the surgeon won’t have that discussion or says the hospital doesn’t collect the data, Shahian says to consider another doctor and medical center.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the May 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.