New tool allows comparison of local surgeons’ safety record

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Patients considering surgery often check their hospitals’ quality rating, but the your surgeon’s safety rating can be even more important. Half of US hospitals have surgeons with both high and low complication rates. ProPublica’s new Surgeon Scorecard allows patients to compare the safety record of surgeons by hospital. ProPublica used Medicare data to calculate surgeon’s death and complication rates, adjusted for patient health, age, and hospital quality, across eight elective procedures. Visitors can search by state, by address, by hospital or for a surgeon near them. For example, of 28 CT hospitals that perform knee replacements, 12 have at least one surgeon with a high complication rate, but five have at least one surgeon with a low rate. Other procedures included in the Scorecard include hip replacement, cervical (neck) spinal fusion, lumbar spinal fusion – posterior and anterior techniques, laparoscopic gallbladder removal, prostate removal and prostate resection. The site also offers important information on medical errors and what policymakers can do to improve the quality of care.