There's a new way to research how a surgeon stacks up to colleagues when it comes to some surgical complications.
Using data from 2.4 million surgeries on Medicare patients nationwide, a non-profit investigative journalism outfit has put together what they call a "scorecard" of nearly 17,000 surgeons, based on whether their operations have had a low, medium or high rate of complications.
The data -- analyzed by ProPublica and found here -- cover eight elective surgeries on Medicare patients from 2009 through 2013.
"For the first time ever, in a way that's groundbreaking, we are seeing a plethora of good data inform the performance metrics of doctors and hospitals in a way we can understand," said Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins, who advised ProPublica on the project.
The American College of Surgeons says the surgeon is ultimately responsible for a patient's care, regardless of whether the surgeon caused the complication.
Dr. Joshua Jacobs of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons said complication rates are just one part of a complex puzzle.
"It does not show what the outcomes are," Jacobs said. "And the outcomes of the surgery we do are reflected in pain relief and improved function."
One doctor pleased to see the study: Dr. Robert Goldszer, chief medical officer at Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach.
Two surgeons there -- Irvin Willis and Dan Cohen -- were found by ProPublica to have produced zero complications in their Medicare patients; Williams after 37 gallbladder removals, and Cohen after 34 spinal fusions.