Finding the best surgeon

Finding the right doctor is an exhausting process to say the least and at times you may not even know where to start.  It takes time, effort and careful research to find the right surgeon for you. Half the battle when choosing a doctor, is choosing one that can address your needs.  If you already know you need a surgeon, and are pretty sure of the type of surgery you need, then most of the battle is won.   This quick guide can help you choose the best surgeon for the job:

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1. DETERMINE HOW FAR YOU ARE WILLING TO TRAVEL, AND AT WHAT COST

Deciding if you want to stay close to home or are ok with travel is crucial when choosing a surgeon.  Depending on what your needs are, let’s say you’d like to follow up at regular intervals with this surgeon, you may want the consider choosing someone closer to home.   Similarly, is the cost of care a factor? Not all surgeons take insurance, or your insurance.  The cost of this could become a burden for you or your loved ones.  If you want/need to keep out of pocket costs to a minimum, then trying to find a surgeon within your insurance plan will help reduce those costs.

2. NARROW DOWN THE CHOICES BY YOUR PREFERENCES

Once you have a general idea of the kind of surgeon you need, how far you are willing to travel, and how much you are willing to pay, you can narrow down your list by some more of your personal but just as important preferences. Do you prefer a male or female surgeon?  Do you feel more comfortable with someone older or younger performing surgery on you? Do you prefer a doctor who speaks your language, if English is not your native tongue?  Below are a few more factors which may play a part:

• Hospital affiliation

• Educational background

• Specialty interests

• Years in practice

Remember – these preferences will be more important for some people over others.  Also, keep in mind that if your surgery is for a life threatening disease, or the outcome will greatly impact your quality of life some of your preferences may need to be sacrificed to achieve a better result.

3. DO AN ONLINE BACKGROUND CHECK, AND ASK AROUND

So you think you know who you’d like to go to, but need more information? Google them.  Sometimes the easiest way to find out more about a surgeon.  There is a lot of information on the web, sifting through all the information can be daunting.  Although information online should be taken with grain of salt, it can help you get to know a doctor better before even meeting them.  Here are some key things to look for:

• Check their board certification

• Check for negative reports associated 

• Check online reviews

• See what other patients have to say

• Check to see if they have a personal website or blog

Ask friends and family if they have ever been to the surgeon or knows anyone who has.  Getting a firsthand account of what to expect can be very helpful.  Asking around can even steer you to look into a surgeon who wasn’t on your radar at first.

4. GO FOR EXPERIENCE

As far as surgery goes, going with an experienced surgeon is fundamental. So if you’ve narrowed down to a few surgeons you might want to meet with – you should find out how many surgeries of the type you are looking to do he/she has done and at what rate of success.  This can help you choose between two similar surgeons.  

5. HAVE A CONSULTATION WITH A SURGEON

Once you have narrowed down the choices, you should take the time to meet the surgeon, or surgeons, you have chosen.  Credentials and websites are great, but it is great to know what a surgeon is like in real life.  Does he/she answer your questions sufficiently? Do you feel comfortable entrusting your life to this person? How confidant do they seem to be in being able to help you and perform a successful surgery?

6. GET A SECOND OPINION

Enough said. This will help you make sure you are making the right decision and choosing the best surgeon.