Saturday, June 06, 2020

What to consider when choosing a surgeon for a big medical operation

Need for surgery

Unless it is an emergency, the decision to undergo surgery is a fairly long process. Typically, the physician evaluates your medical condition, orders tests and possibly asks you to consult with a surgeon, if surgery is the best course of action to treat your condition. The physician may suggest a surgeon who would be performing the surgery at a recommended hospital.

While you don’t have an obligation to accept the physician’s recommendations, it is better for you to evaluate your options before choosing the surgeon. In order to help you choose the right surgeon you can follow the following tips.

Surgeon rating service 

You can use a rating service to help you shortlist a few surgeons for your impending surgery.

There are several doctor rating services available, two of which offer a surgeon rating service. They are Surgeon Scorecard and Surgeon Ratings.

Surgeon Scorecard  is a search engine that uses data from 63,173 Medicare patients, who were readmitted to the hospital after eight elective procedures from 2009 to 2013.

Surgeon Ratings tells you which doctors had bad outcomes for 12 broad categories of surgery (from 4 million surgeries conducted by 50,000 surgeons) and relatively few deaths listed, which doctors were most often recommended by other doctors, which hospitals used by the doctors had the best surgical outcomes, and other key facts, such as board certification, education, and training. The information was culled from 4 million surgeries conducted by 50,000 surgeons.

It is worth taking a look at these ratings to make a short list of surgeons you want to consider.

You can consult your friends and family and seek their recommendations for a suitable surgeon for your surgery. You can add these names to the names you chose from the rating agencies. You can discuss this list with the members of your family and your friends, to help you to narrow the list to 3 or 4 surgeons.

Credentials of surgeon

Prepare a dossier on shortlisted surgeons, as to their credentials. You can be as detailed as possible. You can find out how many successful surgeries they have performed and how many resulted in mortalities. You can check their professional qualifications, specializations and certifications. You should also check whether the surgeon has a history of any medical malpractice cases. You can list questions for which you could not find answers, for you to ask the surgeons when you talk to them.

Talk to surgeons

You can talk to the shortlisted surgeons and seek their response to all your questions. If the shortlisted surgeon and your physician agree, you can have a tripartite discussion. You can also raise any issues flagged by the rating agencies, to seek the surgeon’s reaction. It is advisable to make a list of questions you want answered by the surgeon and ensure you get a response from the surgeon on all your questions. You can also ask the surgeons to give references of patients, whom you could meet to get more valuable information on the surgeons.

Final choice

You can collate the information you have gathered from the rating agencies and discuss this with the surgeons and then make a final choice. You could base your evaluation on outcomes, qualifications, training, specializations, experience, familiarity with the hospital where surgery would be conducted, the facilities at that hospital and so on. You can give increase your comfort level and gauge the body language of the surgeons, during your discussion with them. This will go a long way in preparing your mind for a successful surgery.

A major surgery is a big event for you that would sap your emotional quotient. The surgeon is a critical part of this exercise. So, don’t be shy or wary of seeking clarifications from the surgeon. Your mind must be set to rest about the surgeon and then you will definitely sail through your surgery.

This is a guest blog entry.

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