I recently talked to friend of mine about choosing a surgeon for his upcoming total hip replacement. Which doctor is best to perform his hip replacement? Often we choose surgeons based on a vague reputation or advice of a friend. A true gauge is hard to come by. Here are a few words of advice:
- Physical therapists, athletic trainers, internists and nurses are a great source of information.. These professionals have seen a number of cases from a particular physician and can therefore make a much more informed opinion.
- In order to acquire certain base of skills, a surgeon should have at least 5 years of experience. According to other surgeons, the skill set increases significantly after that period of time.
- Be careful about picking a surgery that is the latest, most current surgery. Even well respected surgeons have a learning curve upon starting a “new” surgical procedure. It is like getting the first model year of a car. The problems or “bugs” have not been worked out and/or the technique has not had a chance to be refined.
- Pick a surgeon who does a lot of one procedure or chooses to specialize in a specific area. A really simple surgery can be botched by a surgeon who has not performed a lot of a particular procedure.
- Check their background through some of these sources: American Medical Association, State Board, or Google and see what comes up in a search.
- Don’t be misled by a good or bad referral from a single patient. We want recommendations from several patients who have had good results rather than just one satisfied customer.
- Get a 2nd or 3rd opinion. I have a telling story which I’ll spell out in my next blog about the value of second opinions!