Today Medibank Private and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) released the first in a series of reports being prepared by these bodies investigating delivery of surgical care and patient outcomes. The public can access this report here.
This first report reveals alarming differences both in out of pocket costs associated with surgical fees, varying both from surgeon to surgeon and State to State, as well as de-identified data concerning complication rates per procedure.
Of interest to us, but of no surprise, was the finding that surgeons who did the lowest number of procedures tended to have higher complication rates. Indeed, this is an issue that we investigate regularly in cases we conduct regarding surgical procedures.
We note in her article published in the Fairfax media, Julia Medew quotes president of RACS, Professor Watters, as encouraging patients to question surgeons about how many times they had done an operation and what their rate of complications was. View the link.
We cannot endorse Professor Watters’ view strongly enough. Time and again we see matters in which patients have gone into surgery with no real understanding of the procedure they are to undergo, let alone the competency of the surgeon proposing to operate.
Not surprisingly, the better informed the patient, the better the outcome.
By Belinda Epstein