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How Much Do You Really Know About Your Surgeon?


Would you like to know in advance whether your surgeon was truly competent to perform your upcoming surgery?

Now you can.

ProPublica, an independent, non-profit, and respected newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest has recently published what they call a “Surgeon Scorecard”. Guided by experts, ProPublica created this scorecard “by calculating death and complication rates for surgeons performing one of eight elective procedures in Medicare, carefully adjusting for differences in patient health, age and hospital quality”.

What did they find?

Eleven percent of the surgeons in their study contributed over 25% of the surgical errors in America?

What’s more, they discovered that many hospitals don’t even track error rates for individual surgeons? And neither does the government.

Overall, the five years of data analyzed by ProPublica for their scorecard documents a tragic human toll… Sixty-three thousand Medicare patients suffered serious harm from surgeries, and 3,405 died after going in for procedures widely seen as routine with low risk.

Harvard School of Public Health professor Dr. Thomas Lee is one of the specialists who consulted with ProPublica on the Surgeon Scorecard. Dr. Lee stated, “I think the methodology was rigorous and conservative. I would be surprised if any experienced clinician challenged the basic finding, which is that there is real variation among surgeons.”

So what’s going on here and why don’t physicians and hospitals do a better job of policing their own?

Experts from another consumer watchdog group – Public Citizen – claim, after looking at the data carefully, such peer review is “not effectively protecting patients from incompetent and miscreant physicians.” Could it be that physicians hide what they know about each other’s work?

Since the publication of the Scorecard, the reaction has been intense. This excerpt from an article on ProPublica’s website captures the response poignantly …

“…Perhaps the most striking response, though, came from one of our readers, the husband of a nursing supervisor at a medical/surgical unit in a respected Southwestern hospital.

When my mother required gallbladder surgery, my wife specifically ensured that a certain surgeon wasn’t on call for the procedure,” he wrote. “While I was at the hospital visiting my wife, I mentioned casually to two of her coworkers (separately) that my mother was upstairs awaiting surgery. Both nurses asked cautiously who was on call and when they found out it was Dr. [redacted] … they breathed a sigh of relief.”

That doctor that hospital insiders protected their loved ones from? The nurses called him “Dr. Abscess.”

To learn more about the Surgeon’s Scorecard, visit

If you or a loved one is ever the victim of a surgical error, a defective drug, the improper prescription of drug therapy, over-exposure to medical radiation, a hospital-acquired infection, a fall while in the hospital, a preventable blood clot, a misdiagnosis, or any form of medical malpractice, call a qualified Connecticut medical malpractice lawyer. A knowledgeable malpractice attorney can help to ensure that your rights are protected.

RisCassi & Davis has handled hundreds of medical malpractice cases over our 60 years serving the people of Connecticut.

What’s more, our Connecticut medical malpractice lawyers have received local and national recognition for our handling of these cases.

We have a great team of legal experts dedicated to medical malpractice in Connecticut. Please contact us if we can help you. 

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