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Old 06-11-2009, 09:34 PM   #1
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Question How do you find a good surgeon?

I was wondering how a person is supposed to know if a surgeon is good or not?

My grandmother went to see a surgeon for back pain. Afterwards, her physical therapist told her that particular surgeon is a butcher. They suggested a few other surgeons and said one was really good. So I looked up information on the first surgeon and didn't really find anything bad about him. So then I looked up the surgeon that the therapists said was good and patient reviews call him a butcher. Additionally, I found out that he was reviewed by the board of medicine for permanently injuring a patient that ended up causing their death years later. The surgeon was found not guilty, which really doesn't mean a thing to me.

This makes me wonder how to determine if a surgeon (or doctor) is good. Here we have physical therapists saying a surgeon is wonderful, but patient reviews and other documents strongly suggest otherwise. Then we have physical therapists saying another surgeon is a butcher with no evidence to back it up.

To add to the confusion, some surgeons have patient reviews saying that the surgeon didn't bother to look at the test results before making a diagnosis. Or that the surgeon rushed them during their consultation and was also rude to them. Or that the surgeon has a God complex. My personal favorite are the surgeons that supposedly suggest surgeries just to make money.

So, how are you supposed to know if a surgeon is good? The last thing anyone wants to do is go to a crappy surgeon that ends up causing more harm than good. It's more than obvious that you can't really trust the recommendations of other medical professionals. I suspect that they recommend surgeons and doctors based on their own personal experience or relationships with that doctor rather than how good they actually are. Or maybe they're not aware of how bad they are.

 
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Old 06-12-2009, 10:41 AM   #2
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Re: How do you find a good surgeon?

Why not ask your doctor who he'd send his mother to? Or who he goes to? Ask your PCP, your gyno, your dentist, etc....

But remember, surgeons do surgery...that's how they get their name....

Last edited by Titchou; 06-12-2009 at 10:42 AM.

 
Old 06-12-2009, 11:30 AM   #3
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Re: How do you find a good surgeon?

Even the best doctors have some people who were extremely unhappy with them, so it can be difficult to sort through whether complaints are legitimate.

Asking your mother's doctor is a great idea. Other medical professionals (like physicial therapists) are usually good sources - nurses particularly so.

So you know anyone else who has had back surgery? Do you have any local/regional magazines that do surveys of the "best doctors" in your area? Survey as many people/sources as you can.

 
Old 06-12-2009, 12:46 PM   #4
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Re: How do you find a good surgeon?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mej1 View Post
I was wondering how a person is supposed to know if a surgeon is good or not?

My grandmother went to see a surgeon for back pain. Afterwards, her physical therapist told her that particular surgeon is a butcher. They suggested a few other surgeons and said one was really good. So I looked up information on the first surgeon and didn't really find anything bad about him. So then I looked up the surgeon that the therapists said was good and patient reviews call him a butcher. Additionally, I found out that he was reviewed by the board of medicine for permanently injuring a patient that ended up causing their death years later. The surgeon was found not guilty, which really doesn't mean a thing to me.

This makes me wonder how to determine if a surgeon (or doctor) is good. Here we have physical therapists saying a surgeon is wonderful, but patient reviews and other documents strongly suggest otherwise. Then we have physical therapists saying another surgeon is a butcher with no evidence to back it up.

To add to the confusion, some surgeons have patient reviews saying that the surgeon didn't bother to look at the test results before making a diagnosis. Or that the surgeon rushed them during their consultation and was also rude to them. Or that the surgeon has a God complex. My personal favorite are the surgeons that supposedly suggest surgeries just to make money.

So, how are you supposed to know if a surgeon is good? The last thing anyone wants to do is go to a crappy surgeon that ends up causing more harm than good. It's more than obvious that you can't really trust the recommendations of other medical professionals. I suspect that they recommend surgeons and doctors based on their own personal experience or relationships with that doctor rather than how good they actually are. Or maybe they're not aware of how bad they are.

Here's a few tips -

If you feel comfortable with the surgeon you have why look elseware. You can check to see if there are any actions against you doctor by checking with state medical board.

Don't listen when peope say your surgeon has a GOD complex. Most of the very best surgeons do. They are often brilliant technicians and don't always have the warm fuzzy Norman Rockwell doctor image this is particulary true of Neurosurgeons, and acrdiac surgeons. Just because the doctor has a bad outcome on one case even if he lost a lawsuit doesn't make him a bad doctor. Sometimes Insurance companies just pay out on the claim.

The best thing to do is to check out the hospital where your surgery is being done and see how many of that surgery was performed there and how many positive outcomes they have had. It's often the after care in the hospital that determines thge ultimate outcome of a surgery.

Hope this helps

Hppy

 
Old 06-12-2009, 03:54 PM   #5
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Re: How do you find a good surgeon?

Also check out where he went to med school, where he did his residency - are they top places or where the leftovers end up? US News and World Reports and other publications have these lists of top schools. Is he board certified in his specialty? Has he edited their publication or written articles for it? These are the types of things to check on. Also second the idea of local "top doc" lists.

 
Old 06-12-2009, 08:52 PM   #6
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Re: How do you find a good surgeon?

Quote:
Originally Posted by auntjudyg View Post
Do you have any local/regional magazines that do surveys of the "best doctors" in your area?
There is a chain of local survey magazines called Consumer's Checkbook. You may be able to find the magazines in the local library if they exist for your area. Occasionally, they do surveys of medical and dental specialists, which are basically polls of which specialists are most often named as being worthy of referral by primary physicians or dentists. While such a survey cannot be perfect, it may help tip the odds in your favor.

 
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