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ProPublica Database on Surgeons and Hospitals


As an attorney who handles medical negligence, workers compensation and other injury claims I see and talk to numerous people who have bad surgical results. Quite frankly, many of them are not necessarily the doctors’ fault. On the other hand, there are clearly too many medical complications. This is been studied many times. The studies conclude that patients who go to the hospital take a risk in going there.

To a large extent, the outcome of a given procedure is not in the hands of the patient. It is very difficult for patients to know what physician is good at any given procedure or what medical institution does a decent job of providing medical care.

Fortunately, ProPublica has done a large study of medical providers and their complication rates. The Surgeon Scorecard is here.  This database studies surgeons throughout the United States and calculates death and complication rates for various types of surgeries. My video discussing this database is here.

Propublica collected data through Medicare. It adjusted for differences in patient health and age. Pro-public a used eight elective procedures to judge the medical provider, including surgeon and hospital. You can search for your hospital or doctor. This will give you a feel for a given surgeon or medical facility performed on a particular procedure compared to others. If you read far enough in the study it will show how many times a surgeon has performed certain surgeries. There are numerous medical studies that show that doctors who do a given surgery more often do a better job of it.

Obviously, this type of study has its limitations. For instance, some doctors may be better at certain procedures than others. There are only eight procedures that Propublica details. These are relatively common procedures are performed regularly by doctors. The study does not take into consideration issues associated with patients who have multiple conditions. Dealing with comorbidities of a complicated patient is not an issue of this study. Medicine is an art. A study like this can only predict certain things.

Nevertheless, it is helpful to know who is good at performing routine surgeries. I’m glad to see Propublica spending time and money it took to study the results of doctors and hospitals. I am sure that many doctors and hospitals will dispute the findings of Propublica, many with good points. Most procedures are not listed in the database. This is a limited view of was obviously very complicated issue. On the other hand, I’m not aware of another database like this one. I encourage other groups to make similar studies. I encourage patients to use the Pro-publica database. While this is certainly a limited attempt, it is at least to start.

At Ackerman Law Office, we help people who are victims of medical neglect, nursing home neglect, and injuries of all other types. If you feel you have been injured by some type of negligence feel free to give us a call. We take such cases on a contingent fee.


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