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How To Choose A Surgeon

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Updated January 31, 2012

Choosing the right doctor to perform your surgery is one of the most important decisions you can make. Important considerations include your surgeon's experience and skill, how you work with this doctor, how convenient he is located, and if you trust your surgeon.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 30 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Are you comfortable talking to your doctor?
    No matter how well qualified your doctor may be, you will not have a good experience if you cannot effectively communicate your concerns, and he can respond adequately. Some patients need more attention, and will need a doctor willing and able to spend time discussing their concerns.

  2. Does he answer all of your questions?
    Do you feel like your doctor answers all your questions? Does he provide information in a way that you understand? Do you feel comfortable asking all of the questions you have? If you call your doctor's office, do they respond in a timely manner?

  3. Does your doctor perform this procedure regularly?
    Ask your doctor how often he performs the surgery you are having done. Most often you will not need to find someone who just performs your procedure, but you also don't want the surgeon who has never performed the procedure you are having. Look for a doctor who regularly performs your surgery.

  4. Is your doctor located in a place you can get to?
    It is tempting for some people to fly off to have their surgery done by the "biggest name" in the field. But often the smarter decision is to have a qualified local doctor perform your surgery. It is unusual to have to drive a long distance to find a good surgeon.

    Not only is it more convenient for you, but it can improve your rehabilitation from the surgery. You doctor will be there to guide your rehab, and he can help if you do encounter any problems after surgery.

  5. Have you asked the hard/uncomfortable questions?
    Ask direct questions, rather than hoping not to offend your doctor. It is OK to ask these questions:
    • Do you feel comfortable performing this procedure?
    • What complications have you encountered?
    • Should I see a doctor that is more specialized?
    • Can I get another opinion?
    • Are you board certified?
    If your doctor is hesitant to have you get another opinion, I think they should be avoided. If a doctor is comfortable with his recommendation, he should not worry about you seeing another doctor to confirm that recommendation.

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