Columnist calls on urologists to disclose prostatectomy rates and related data


In one of his regular video columns on the Medscape web site, Dr. Gerald Chodak has called on his colleagues in the urology community to voluntarily disclose data about their prostatectomy experience to patients interested in surgical treatment for localized prostate cancer.

Dr. Chodak’s video column this week contains the following statements:

I’d like to suggest that, as part of the consent process, urologists have an obligation to provide that information even if patients don’t ask them. They should volunteer the information of how many [radical prostatectomies] they’ve done in total, how many they do per year, what the complication rates are based on validated surveys, and what the likelihood is that patients of similar cancer grade and stage need additional therapy after undergoing radical prostatectomy.

That information is critical so that patients can decide whether the results sound good enough or they would like to try out another doctor, or at least interview another doctor to see if different information is available.

Dr. Chodak’s remarks are clearly driven by the recent paper by Oberlin et al. that was discussed last month on this web site.

Quite how well Dr. Chodak’s recommendation will go down with his colleagues in the urology community is hard to judge, but from a patient perspective it is high time that someone in the urology community was addressing this issue.

4 Responses

  1. If the doctor doesn’t volunteer this info, the patient should ask. I’ve found that all surgeons I’ve met with do keep a scorecard. Perhaps they’d refuse to disclose if their numbers don’t look so good, otherwise, they should be happy to brag. When a surgeon won’t disclose it, I think it’s a good reason for the patient to walk away.

  2. Too bad my da Vinci urologist refused to give any info about his patients, even those possibly willing to share successful results, citing patient confidentiality. He frankly said he was too busy to even keep records of his follow ups! What? Interesting how the University of Florida Proton Institute in Jacksonville, Florida, voluntarily gave three full pages, about 80 patients’ phone numbers and e-mail addresses; those who were willing to share their outcomes. That goes a long way with me.

  3. “urologists have an obligation to provide that information even if patients don’t ask them”

    Most urology surgeons are not ethical enough to do that.

    “it is high time that someone in the urology community was addressing this issue.”

    Considering that urology surgeons, like surgeons in general, act as if they are God’s gift to mankind, “high time” won’t be happening anytime soon.

  4. David:

    Huh? The whole point is that it just did happen! And in a very public forum!

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