Medicare Physician Data Reveal High-Quality, Low-Priced Orthopedic Surgeons
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Total hip replacement is one of the most common elective inpatient surgeries in the U.S., with more than 440,000 procedures performed in 2012 at an estimated cost of over $8.4 billion…
On April 9, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released an unprecedented amount of physician data to the public..
…NerdWallet Health evaluated 3,442 orthopedic surgeons who performed 98,100 hip replacements on Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries during 2012 to help patients find the highest-quality physicians at the best price…
Patients should choose physicians who perform over 50 hip replacements each year at hospitals providing more than 200 joint-replacement surgeries annually. Research suggests patients treated by high-volume surgeons at high-volume hospitals have lower rates of infections, serious complications such as blood clots and pneumonia, and death.
Only 1 in 10 orthopedic surgeons meet this benchmark, while 47% of surgeons performed fewer than 20 hip replacements. This means 12%, or only 408 surgeons, performed more than 50 hip replacements on Medicare patients in 2012.
Alaska, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming have no orthopedic surgeons who meet this quality benchmark for Medicare patients, suggesting that more than 5 million people in these states may not have in-state access to a high-volume hip-replacement surgeon.
Prices varied widely among the 3,442 physicians included in our study. The average submitted physician charge amount ranged from $251 to $40,736.
The highest-performing physicians, representing 1% of orthopedic surgeons, did more than 100 hip replacements on Medicare beneficiaries in 2012.