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July 2016

Power Outage—Inadequate Surgeon Performance Measures Leave Patients in the Dark

Author Affiliations
  • 1University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor
  • 2Department of Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor
JAMA Surg. 2016;151(7):599-600. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2015.5459

ProPublica created their Surgeon Scorecard, released in July, in an attempt to shed light on surgeons’ outcomes and help patients choose high-quality surgeons for 8 common, elective procedures.1 Whether the Scorecard has achieved these goals has become the subject of controversy. Its release has served as a lightning-rod for criticism, with many questioning the validity and reliability of its results. Supporters of the Scorecard argue that the ratings are an imperfect but valuable first step toward devising a transparent, accurate surgeon performance measure. Critics have questioned the use of a data set that lacks key performance indicators and potentially flawed statistical analysis, ultimately claiming that the Scorecard’s imperfections render it useless.2 Regardless of their position in the debate, most agree that the publishing of ProPublica’s Scorecard presents a golden opportunity to consider the feasibility and optimal design of surgeon-specific performance reports.

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