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Overview

This website will help you find excellent candidates to perform surgery for you or a loved one for each of 14 types of major surgery.

Here you'll find excellent candidates to perform surgery for you or a loved one for each of 14 types of major surgery. This is the first-ever website to report nationwide, on such a range of procedures, specific surgeons' results in terms of deaths, complications (which we identify based on prolonged lengths of hospital stays), or the need to be readmitted to a hospital. The results are adjusted 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. 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 20 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 (deaths, complications, and readmissions) 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 showing the better-performing surgeons in the U.S., Consumers' CHECKBOOK/Center for the Study of Services (Checkbook.org) has used government data on millions of cases over a four-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.


Articles

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 for 14 types 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 the following 14 groupings 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 continuously expand the list.

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 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.

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.