Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Choosing a Surgeon

How I Chose a Surgeon

Some people have asked me how I chose a surgeon. It isn’t easy, and the one I chose isn’t the one I might expect others to choose. Choosing a surgeon, like choosing a family healthcare provider is very personal.

I trusted a friend who runs a large surgical office. Though the surgeons she works for do not do the surgery I need, they work for the health system I trust. I chose the health system, or hospital, first. I needed to know that the leadership at this facility go to conferences and are involved in patient safety initiatives nationally. The leadership is on boards and involved with organizations that promote patient safety. This health system encourages patient participation. If something goes wrong, I am confident that this institution has had the training to disclose to my family and do what is right.

That is no excuse for my choosing a surgeon who is fairly new to her field. Her profile says that she has been licensed for three years and board certified in 2009. Another surgeon I saw for another opinion said she was doing this procedure for over ten years. “So why” asked a friend / colleague / surgeon who is 64 years old and has more experience than these two others put together, “would you use someone with such little experience?” “Because”, I explained, “I don’t want someone who has been trained with the dinosaurs”.

When physicians complain about change, and I hear the words “that’s the way we always did it” I fear that they are not willing to learn important things such as hand hygiene, time outs and communication. I fear that the “way we always did it” is outdated and possibly what has caused the patient safety problem in this country to begin with.

By using a younger surgeon, I am choosing someone who has been recommended, does not come with the “holier than though” attitude and maybe has been to some of the patient safety conferences that I have been to. Chances are, some of the other hospitals in town may not even know about them.

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