Thursday, July 30, 2015

Finding the Safest Care

We have a new tool to help us find a good doctor -- The Surgeon ScorecardOf course, hospital safety matters and I've blogged about that before, but when it comes to elective operations, it is more important to select the best surgeon. The new scorecard covers common elective procedures -- knee replacement, hip replacement, gallbladder removal, lumbar spinal fusion, prostate resection, prostate removal and cervical spinal fusion. 

The tool is easy to use. I particularly like that it includes the number of times a surgeon performed a procedure because I want to go to the doctor who has successfully performed a surgery 250 times, not 22 times. Scores are case mix adjustment to account for surgeons that tackle the most difficult cases. 

An example in the article announcing the launch of the Surgeon Scorecard hit close to home, 
"A surgeon with one of the nation’s highest complication rates for prostate removals in our analysis operates at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital, a national powerhouse known for its research on patient safety. He alone had more complications than all 10 of his colleagues combined — though they performed nine times as many of the same procedures."
On a related note, Consumer Reports just released their annual rankings of hospitals nationwide. Disappointingly, hospitals in the D.C. area are no better than average at protecting patients from infections. 

Although I'm truly in favor of making performance data available to the public new sources of information add to our confusion as consumers. What matters most? What sources of information should we review? How are we suppose to sort out conflicting reports? 

In an attempt to make this a bit easier, I've added a "Get the Best Care" section to the right navigation bar of my blog. I will pick and choose the links I place there carefully and keep it to what I consider essential. Additional sources of information will be included under "Useful Links" or in the Healthcare Savvy tab. I hope this short list will become an easy point of reference for you. 

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