The radiologist looked at the x-ray.  He told me I didn’t have any cartilage left in my right hip.  That meant I needed a hip replacement.

I’ve had bad luck with “custom” things.  I wanted my hip replaced in a “factory”.  I didn’t want anything custom about the procedure and I certainly didn’t want an orthopedic surgeon “figuring it out” as he or she cut through my leg.

I found a great surgeon (William Barrett) who has done something like 5,000 joint replacements.  The surgery went really well and the recovery has been super-fast.  Apparently my gut instinct has been born out by research.

Imagine you were seeking major surgery, and the hospital’s consent form contained this surprise statement, which you were asked to initial: “I understand that this surgeon and hospital have not performed this procedure in the last 12 months. As such, I accept the greater risk of complications and even death.”

It’s hard to believe that you would sign the form and move forward with the surgery.

However, that’s the decision that some patients unwittingly make when they agree to high-risk procedures by surgeons with insufficient experience in performing them, or in hospitals where they are not commonly done. For decades, evidence has shown that mortality is lower, and outcomes are better, when you seek certain procedures from physicians and hospital teams with more practice doing them. And yet, complex surgeries such as pancreas and esophagus resections are done too often in hospitals that may have done none or one in the previous year.

Here’s a chart that details procedures and minimum volumes.

If you’ve had a problem with one of the above procedures at a “low-volume” hospital it makes sense to consult with an attorney.


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