Expanding clarity or confusion? Volatility of the 5-tier ratings assessing quality of transplant centers in the United States

Academic Article


  • © 2018 The American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons Outcomes of patients receiving solid organ transplants in the United States are systematically aggregated into bi-annual Program-Specific Reports (PSRs) detailing risk-adjusted survival by transplant center. Recently, the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) issued 5-tier ratings evaluating centers based on risk-adjusted 1-year graft survival. Our primary aim was to examine the reliability of 5-tier ratings over time. Using 10 consecutive PSRs for adult kidney transplant centers from June 2012 to December 2016 (n = 208), we applied 5-tier ratings to center outcomes and evaluated ratings over time. From the baseline period (June 2012), 47% of centers had at least a 1-unit tier change within 6 months, 66% by 1 year, and 94% by 3 years. Similarly, 46% of centers had at least a 2-unit tier change by 3 years. In comparison, 15% of centers had a change in the traditional 3-tier rating at 3 years. The 5-tier ratings at 4 years had minimal association with baseline rating (Kappa 0.07, 95% confidence interval [CI] -0.002 to 0.158). Centers had a median of 3 different 5-tier ratings over the period (q1 = 2, q3 = 4). Findings were consistent for center volume, transplant rate, and baseline 5-tier rating. Cumulatively, results suggest that 5-tier ratings are highly volatile, limiting their utility for informing potential stakeholders, particularly transplant candidates given expected waiting times between wait listing and transplantation.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Schold JD; Andreoni KA; Chandraker AK; Gaston RS; Locke JE; Mathur AK; Pruett TL; Rana A; Ratner LE; Buccini LD
  • Start Page

  • 1494
  • End Page

  • 1501
  • Volume

  • 18
  • Issue

  • 6