Surgeon Ratings Logo

Overview

This website is intended to help you find excellent candidates to perform surgery for you or a loved one for each of 12 types of major surgery.

This is the first-ever website to report nationwide, on such a range of procedures, estimates of specific surgeons' results in terms of patients' deaths, complications (which we identify based on prolonged lengths of hospital stays), or need to be readmitted to a hospital. Our analysts have made adjustments intended to take into account that some surgeons treat more difficult cases than others in terms of their patients' age and/or medical conditions.

There are big differences among surgeons in the results we report. For example–

  • For heart valve and bypass surgery, the patients of the best-performing one-tenth of surgeons had death rates of less than 3 percent in-hospital or within 90 days of discharge, compared to death rates of more than 11 percent for patients of the worst-performing one-tenth of surgeons.
  • Similarly, for major small and large bowel surgery, death rates ranged from less than 6 percent for the best-performing one-tenth of surgeons to more than 18 percent for the worst-performing one-tenth.
  • And for total hip and knee replacement, where deaths are rare, the best-performing one-tenth of surgeons had overall bad-outcome rates (prolonged lengths of stay, readmissions, or deaths) of less than 8 percent, while the worst-performing one-tenth had overall bad-outcome rates of more than 21 percent.

To create this website comparing performance of surgeons throughout the U.S., Consumers' CHECKBOOK/Center for the Study of Services (Checkbook.org) has used government data on millions of cases over a five-year period. We have been performing such comparisons of hospitals for many years, but the federal government would not release data identifying individual doctors. We had been suing the government and pushing for policy changes for more than a decade, but to no avail. Finally, thanks to some forward-thinking people in the government, the needed data were made available. We hope more and more data will become available, quality measurement will continue to improve, and physicians and consumers will continue to work for the best possible outcomes.

You will find the results here, along with other types of information we have pulled together on each listed surgeon–with more to come as this work evolves and improves.


Topics

Finding a Good Surgeon

Finding a Good Surgeon

To help you choose the best surgeon, our website tells you which doctors had relatively few deaths and other bad outcomes (based on our researchers' analysis of the data we had, including adjustments for the characteristics of the surgeons' patients) for 12 board categories of surgery, which doctors were most often recommended by other doctors, which hospitals used by the doctors had the best surgical outcomes, and other key facts, such as board certification, education, and training.

Types of Surgery We Report on

Types of Surgery We Report on

We report on 12 broad categories of types of surgery. On our search page, select the type you are interested in and see the surgeons who look good according to our measures. We plan to continually adjust the list of types of surgery as different data become available and medical and surgical practice changes. We have not, for example, reported on hernia repair here although we did in a previous version of this website because more and more hernia repairs are done on an out-patient basis and the data on such out-patient procedures still do not meet our standards of quality.

How Big Are the Differences Among Surgeons?

How Big Are the Differences Among Surgeons?

For all of the procedure groups we examined, we found that very large differences exist among individual surgeons. For example, for heart valve and heart bypass surgery, the patients of the one-tenth of surgeons for whom we are reporting the lowest risk-adjusted death rates had rates of less than 2 percent in-hospital or within 90 days of discharge, compared to risk-adjusted death rates of more than 13 percent for patients of the one-tenth of surgeons with the highest risk-adjusted death rates according to our analysis.

Getting the Best Care

Getting the Best Care

Before undergoing surgery, consider the evidence that it is necessary, that no better options exist, and that the benefits are worth it. To do this, talk with your primary care doctor, a surgeon who might perform the surgery, and one or more independent surgeons for second opinions. Any good surgeon will encourage you to get independent second opinions. Our ratings will help you find good surgeons to consult.

How Doctors and Patients Can Improve

How Doctors and Patients Can Improve

There is much doctors and patients can do to improve outcomes. We want to help everyone do their part.

Doing Your Own Medical Research

Doing Your Own Medical Research

You can find an enormous amount of medical information online. We list here several useful sites.

More About Our Measures of Outcomes

More About Our Measures of Outcomes

This section is a detailed discussion of the measures we report on deaths and other bad outcomes and how to interpret them.