Guided by experts, ProPublica calculated 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. Use this database to know more about a surgeon before your operation.
This database was last updated in July 2015 and is based on data from 2009 to 2013. It should only be used as a historical snapshot.
Eight Elective Procedures
We focused on procedures done thousands of times a day, mostly without incident. They are scheduled in advance and generally performed on patients in stable health. We excluded patients who came in through the emergency room or from facilities like nursing homes. Read our methodology »
Replace diseased knee joint with an artificial knee.
Replace diseased hip joint with an artificial hip joint.
Gallbladder Removal, Laparoscopic
Minimally invasive gallbladder removal.
Lumbar Spinal Fusion, Posterior Column
The fusing of two or more vertebrae in the lower back, performed on the back portion of the spine.
Lumbar Spinal Fusion, Anterior Column
The fusing of two or more vertebrae in the lower back, performed on the front portion of the spine.
The removal of the entire prostate gland via the open or laparoscopic or robotic method.
The resection and removal of a portion of the prostate through the urethra.
Cervical (Neck) Spinal Fusion
The fusing of two or more vertebrae of the neck, using orthopedic devices to hold them in place.
Surgeons, Not Hospitals
Conventional wisdom tells patients to simply choose a good hospital when they need surgery. But ProPublica has found that even within “good” hospitals, performance between surgeons can vary significantly. Half of all hospitals in America have surgeons with low and high complication rates. Read our story »
- 16,019 Surgeons rated in ProPublica's analysis
- 63,173 Medicare patients were readmitted with complications between 2009 and 2013
- 3,405 Medicare patients died during a hospital stay for elective surgery between 2009 and 2013
An updated estimate says it could be at least 210,000 patients a year – more than twice the number in the Institute of Medicine’s frequently quoted report, “To Err is Human.”
Patients seldom are told or get an apology when they are harmed during medical care, according to a new study based on results from ProPublica's Patient Harm Questionnaire.
Top patient-safety experts call on Congress to step in and, among other steps, give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wider responsibility for measuring medical mistakes.