Not all surgeons are created equal. And just because the surgeon you've chosen works at a reputable hospital, it doesn't mean he/she is the best.
Medical mistakes that could have been avoided are the third highest killer in the U.S., behind heart disease and cancer. Each year at least 200,000 patients die in hospitals from preventable errors.
Just like hiring a contractor to work on your house, you want to make sure you're getting quality work when you hire a doctor to work on your body. Until now there's been no reliable source to check the success rate of the surgeon you're trusting to cut you open.
Yesterday, the independent, non-profit, public interest newsroom, Propublica, released a database that rates surgeons. They calculated death and complication rates for 16,827 surgeons, limiting their results to only those performing one of eight elective procedures in Medicare. The study included only scheduled procedures and made adjustments based on age, patient health, and hospital quality.
To search a doctor simply go to the website propublica.org and enter your surgeon's name or search by hospital. Information is currently limited to the following elective procedures:
- Knee and Hip Replacement
- Laprascopic Gallbladder Removal
- Lumbar Spinal Fusion, Anterior and Posterior
- Prostrate Resection and Removal
- Cervical (Neck) Spinal Fusion
In addition to surgeons, you can review Georgia hospitals at the website hospitalsafety.org. They look at the following areas and assign letter grades depending on results:
- Safety Problems with Surgery
- Steps Followed by Staff to Make Surgery Safer
- Infections and Safety Problems
- The Right Staffing to Prevent Safety Problems
- Standard Safety Procedures Used by the Hospitals
This organization has been reviewing hospitals since 2012 so be sure to look at the hospitals previous scores as well.
Some hospitals and surgeons make patient safety a top priority and take all the necessary steps to ensure a successful surgery and recovery. They communicate effectively with patients, their families, and other staff members, ensure the facility is kept clean at all times, and have checks and balances in place to prevent mistakes. Unfortunately, not all hospitals take the same precautions, which can cause life-threatening mistakes. Having a system to review surgeons and hospitals helps patients make informed healthcare decisions and forces medical facilities and doctors to take steps necessary to ensure patient safety.