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lizzybrog80 02-20-2008 07:32 AM

Thoughts: Determining If A Doctor/Facility Is "Good"
I was just thinking, a couple of years ago, when I was sent for my first epidural steroid injections (ESI's), I chose the pain management dept. in a local hospital, because they could get me in the fastest, and I was in pain and hoped this shot would take my pain away. Of course I wanted to get in quickly!!! Anyway, the way they did the ESI's was to have you sit on the bed, bend you over, and stick you. I told this to a doctor later, who gave me the look that said "They should not have done that." I've also talked to others who have had all their ESI's with fluroscopy. As I had the injections done, I thought the facility I was in was top-class. Everyone was nice, had a great bedside manner, they had good facilities, I liked the doctor, etc. So, in retrospect, perhaps it was not the best facility. But how should I have known? What signs did I miss?

This "sixth sense" could be important in the future if I am faced with having to choose a surgeon to do a major operation. So how do you know? That is my question of the day :)

Baybreeze 02-20-2008 07:40 AM

Re: Thoughts: Determining If A Doctor/Facility Is "Good"
As far as surgeon, in the end you should go with your gut. But to find out more info, you can ask Nurses at the hospitals; ask any co-workers, if you work, ask friends & aquaintances; and another good place to ask is Physical Therapists if you go to or have gone to any. I got a few doctors names from my PT's b/c they ask their patients about their doctors and get feedback if people like them or not. They also see the patients after surgeries and see any problems they might have. When I was in the hospital getting my pre-op testing, the nurses asked me who was doing my surgery and when I told them, they said thats who they would want doing theirs or I made the right choice, so that upped my confidence more in my surgeon. My PT gave me the name of this surgeon as well. I also got to speak to some of his patients as a couple were going to PT same time as me. SO that's another thing to do, ask if he would mind you talking to patients. Find out how many of your particular surgerys he/she's done and ask alot of questions.

BlueAtlas 02-20-2008 07:52 AM

Re: Thoughts: Determining If A Doctor/Facility Is "Good"
You got good advice from Baybreeze. Also, there are websites where you can "grade" doctors and hospitals. I just went back and looked at one I've been on and it does have some ads on it, so I guess that makes it a commercial site. So I can't give you the link, but I'm sure you can find some of those sites. You can rate your own doctor and see how others have rated him and how he stands up to the national average. Of course, a first hand recommendation is always better. If you know any nurses, they're great sources for finding a good doctor and know the inside scoop on the hospitals.

When I had my last fusion surgery, a friend who used to be a nurse at that hospital told me, "they're good at losing glasses and dentures." I don't wear dentures, or I'd be toothless now! Fortunately, my glasses were on my face when they scooped the case up with the dirty linen and sent it to the laundry. Never saw it again, even though it was labeled on both sides with my official hospital label and my name real big. Not that big a deal, but the nurses do know what goes on on the inside, which doctors have a good reputation with the patients and staff, who has a higher infection rate, etc.

My two cents worth...

mznell 02-20-2008 08:39 AM

Re: Thoughts: Determining If A Doctor/Facility Is "Good"
In addition to what Baybreeze suggested, with the availability of the Internet you have lots of statistics at your fingertips. You can find out the doctor's education, whether he is fellowship-trained, whether any law suits have been filed against him, etc. You can find out what professional organizations he belongs to. Then you research the hospital itself. There are various local and state rankings, rates of infection, articles and ratings in magazines such as "US News and World Report," etc., professional hospital organizations that provide rankings, and so forth.

Just as you discovered with your injections, if you don't do your homework when selecting your doctor, you could end up with someone who is not a spinal specialist. Back surgery has become the second largest consumer of health care dollars in the US. It is a very lucrative business and some doctors are not as qualified as they should be.

Finally as a consumer you need to learn everything you can about your diagnosis, or potential diagnosis. Some hospitals have libraries where you can read the latest medical journals; some have librarians that will help you find pertinent articles. Otherwise, once again turn to the Internet. You will soon learn which websites are educational and which are run by the drug companies or other commercial entities. It is up to each of us to become an educated consumer so that we end up with the best possible outcome for our particular diagnosis.

lizzybrog80 02-20-2008 11:03 AM

Re: Thoughts: Determining If A Doctor/Facility Is "Good"
Thanks everyone. Good advice. I realize there are lots of places to look, but in the end I think it partly comes down to luck. I guess I was just looking for others' thoughts on the issue.

I am *very* informed re: my diagnosis (or lack thereof, as it is), and even feel at times I know more than the doctor. I have suggested things and had them say "That's probably a good idea." You have to be in this day & age, and also specifically with the back, which is, just the truth, not know much about.

Wishing everyone well!

AnnD 02-20-2008 11:31 AM

Re: Thoughts: Determining If A Doctor/Facility Is "Good"
The measure of success or if they did it correctly is measured by your pain relief...if you had pain relief they did it right? They wouldn't do that position if it wasn't helping people...every facility does it just a little different. They can only do what your doctor ordered and if the referring doctor didn't order it done with fluroscopy then they wouldn't do it that way. From what you describe it sounds like a very nice place to go and a good endorsement for the facility. However, you can always read the yearly review that all hospitals have to go through to evaluate how they did and if there are any problems during survey. The State and the Feds do a yearly surprise inspection of all medical facilities and the report has to be posted somewhere where the public can read it. Of course finding where they post it is a trick sometimes. Some post it near the cafeteria and so post it near the front lobby...of course all you have to do is ask where it is posted.

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