Patients can now search to see how many complications a surgeon has had for certain Medicare reimbursed procedures. Our news partners at Propublica.org have been working on this information for three years. The nonprofit news organization looked at Medicare records from 2009 to 2013, noting surgical complications.
The data includes more than sixty-four thousand medical problems — things like misaligned prosthetics, accidental punctures, infections, and deaths related to 8 kinds of elective surgeries. The complications are not necessarily caused by a surgeon, but they happen on the surgeon’s watch.
ProPublica crunched the numbers and gave surgeons complication rates based on how many procedures they performed versus the number of complications.
Using an algorithm, the group took into account risk factors like a patient’s age and health conditions, before coming up with what they call the adjusted complication rate.
Some in the medical field question ProPublica’s findings, saying Medicare data only includes a fraction of hospital patients. Critics also point out there needs to be context to the information, including the patient’s socio-economic status.
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