Choosing a Surgeon for Elective Procedures
In an emergency situation, we may not have the luxury (or the time) to hand-pick our surgeon before going under the knife. When deciding to have elective procedures done, however, we are fortunate to have numerous resources available to us to help us make an informed decision about our treatment options. Websites such as the ProPublica ProMedica Surgeon Scorecard provide a public forum where patients seeking surgeons can receive information and statistics about their potential physicians. Using this technology can direct patients to safer, more reputable doctors, hopefully resulting in less medical negligence and fewer complications.Big Name, Bad Doctor
It is a common misconception that a “big name” hospital only employs infallible physicians. According to the ProPublica database’s research in Michigan, for example, doctors with both the highest and lowest complication rates may work at the same hospital. This demonstrates that hospitals are capable of having both good and bad doctors on their staff and that the name of the hospital cannot uniformly inform patients of the likelihood of adequate medical care.Using Online Resources to Evaluate Physicians – The Pros
Having resources such as the ProPublica database at patient’s fingertips can help point them in the right direction of doctors in their area that are experienced in the types of surgery the patient is looking into. The database only includes surgeons that have performed a specific procedure at least 20 times, so there is at least some basis for accuracy. Plus, there are other sites that “rate” doctors’ performances (Consumer Reports, Checkbook, and Healthgrades, to name a few) that can be used in conjunction with this resource.
Using online resources can help lead a patient to a potential surgeon. Once the patient has the opportunity to meet the surgeon, they can better assess how comfortable they will feel having said surgeon complete the surgery and take the opportunity to ask any questions about the surgeon’s training or experience that may help inform their decision. Surgeons understand, especially for elective procedures, that you need to feel comfortable with the person you are working with. Using online resources such as ProPublica is merely the first step in guiding a patient toward a relevant and peer-reviewed doctor.The Cons
Some surgeons, backed by the American College of Surgeons, have reservations about making this type of information available to the general public. There are concerns that limited data may fail to adequately account for the riskiness of the initial surgery, the risk level of the patient undergoing the surgery, the standardized success rate, the experience of the physician, or the differences accounting for community standards in different areas. There is also a concern that by making this information available to the public, doctors may take on more low-risk patients to avoid having their ratings go down—at the expense of higher risk patients looking for the same surgery. Moreover, the studies heavily rely upon Medicare data—providing evidence that many of the patients are 65 and older (who generally have greater surgery risk than younger patients).
Regardless of its perceived flaws, ProPublica provides a valuable resource that can serve as a guide for patients looking for surgeons, especially when used in conjunction with other online resources and personal contact with the surgeon. Doing your due diligence in locating a surgeon for your elective procedure will help you be more comfortable with your decision and make the entire process easier and less stressful for you in the long run.San Jose Medical Law Firm
Even the best surgeons can make mistakes. While it is wise to invest time in selecting a reputable surgeon, incidents do happen. “Mistakes” in a surgical context can be life-threatening and may include improper anesthesia administration, misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, or injury to other parts of the body. When you have been harmed as a result of a surgical operation, it is critical to consult with an experienced San Jose medical negligence attorney right away. In California, the statute of limitations limits the amount of time an injured party has to file a lawsuit after the date of the injury (surgery). Hiring an attorney right away will eliminate the concern that you could lose your legal rights by failing to timely file your case, and will provide you with the reassurance and guidance you need to get through this difficult time. The veteran attorneys at Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. have a reputation for successfully holding negligent parties accountable for our clients’ injuries and losses. Contact our San Jose office at (408) 289-1417 to take the first step towards your full recovery today.