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The Aristotle method: a new concept to evaluate quality of care based on complexity

Lacour-Gayet, François; Clarke, David Rand the Aristotle Committee

Current Opinion in Pediatrics: June 2005 - Volume 17 - Issue 3 - p 412-417
doi: 10.1097/01.mop.0000165361.05587.b9

Purpose of review Evaluation of quality of care is a duty of the modern medical practice. A reliable method of quality evaluation able to compare fairly institutions and inform a patient and his family of the potential risk of a procedure is clearly needed. It is now well recognized that any method that purports to evaluate quality of care should include a case mix/risk stratification method. No valuable method was available until recently in pediatric cardiac surgery.

Recent findings The Aristotle method is a new concept of evaluation of quality of care in congenital heart surgery based on the complexity of the surgical procedures. Involving a panel of expert surgeons, the project started in 1999 and included 50 pediatric surgeons from 23 countries. The basic score adjusts the complexity of a given procedure and is calculated as the sum of potential for mortality, potential for morbidity and anticipated technical difficulty. The Comprehensive Score further adjusts the complexity according to the specific patient characteristics (anatomy, associated procedures, co-morbidity, etc.). The Aristotle method is original as it introduces several new concepts: the calculated complexity is a constant for a given patient all over the world; complexity is an independent value and risk is a variable depending on the performance; and Performance = Complexity × Outcome.

Summary The Aristotle score is a good vector of communication between patients, doctors and insurance companies and may stimulate the quality and the organization of heath care in our field and in others.

The Children's Hospital Heart Institute University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado

Correspondence to F. Lacour-Gayet, The Children's Hospital Heart Institute University of Colorado, 1056 East 19th Avenue, Denver, CO 80218, USA

Tel: 303 861 6624; e-mail:

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.