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What is your surgeon’s complication rate? Here’s mine.

If you are going to have a surgery two questions you should ask your surgeon are: “What are the most common complications of this surgery?” and “What is your complication rate with this operation?”

Unfortunately, many patients do not ask these questions. I feel that some patients are hesitant to ask because they are afraid of offending their surgeon. Furthermore, most surgeons do not even know what their complication rate is. They may have a rough idea, but the majority of surgeons have not analyzed their cases to determine exactly what their complication rate is.

When I talk to my patients about shoulder replacement surgery I want to give them accurate and complete information so that they can make an informed decision. For this reason I analyzed my most recent 200 shoulder replacements to determine exactly what my complication rate is. I also wanted to know how I was doing compared to national data, so that I can continue to improve.

Here I am providing my complication rate for reverse total shoulder replacements and anatomical total shoulder replacements. I was pleased that my infection rate, dislocation rate and revision rate are all significantly lower than the national data recently reported in the June edition of the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery.

The attached graphs shows my percent complication rate in red compared to national data in blue. You will see that for anatomic total shoulder replacements we had a zero percent infection, dislocation and revision rate which is why there are no red bars on the graph.

The obvious question is: Why is my complication rate lower than national data? I would like to take the credit but the real reason is that I have a great surgical team at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital. We do approximately 100 shoulder replacements per year and every surgery is done with the same team. Excellence is a habit of repetition.

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I enjoy sharing this story because it is a testament to patient's who are seeking a solution to shoulder arthritis who want to remain highly active. I am grateful for patients like Fred who give me the opportunity to improve their overall quality of life!