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ProPublica's new "Surgeon Scorecard" empowers patients

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NEW YORK -- The non-profit organization ProPublica has developed a new tool called the "Surgeon Scorecard".  This statistical database displays the death and complication rates for surgeons performing eight different elective procedures in Medicare.

The Surgeon Scorecard focuses on common surgeries that are done thousands of times everyday. These surgeries include: knee replacements, hip replacements, gallbladder removals (laparoscopic), lumbar spinal fusions (posterior technique and the anterior technique), prostate resections, prostate removals, and cervical (neck) spinal fusions.

In an analysis done by ProPublica, 16,827 surgeons were rated. With those surgeons, 63,173 Medicare patients were readmitted with complications between 2009 and 2013 and 3,405 died during a hospital stay for elective surgery during the same time period.

The scorecard is meant to empower patients to choose the right surgeons. More often than not, people simply pick a good hospital to have their surgery done at, rather than researching a specific surgeon. A statement from ProPublica reads: "even with "good" hospitals, performance between surgeons can vary significantly". The scorecard allows people to get a more in depth look of how well their surgeons actually perform the surgery they plan to undergo.

The data included in the Surgeon Scorecard is based on billing data submitted to Medicare between 2009 and 2013. They have analyzed 2.3 million procedures.

You can access the Surgeon Scorecard here. You can search based on hospital, location, or surgeon. There is also a field to narrow your search to one of the eight surgeries they collected data.

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