How to Find a Good Doctor and Surgeon
Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA
Director of Orthopedic Surgery
It is extremely important to make sure the doctor who takes care of you is a good doctor. You are entrusting him/her to either maintain your health or to get you back to good health. This is even more important when it comes to finding a good surgeon. You are entrusting this person to diagnose you correctly and then cut you open to fix something internally.
When choosing a doctor, I think the most important criteria is to make sure you have a person with whom you can have good relationship. It should be someone you trust and who you feel comfortable asking questions to. There are too many doctors who don’t make eye contact with their patients or can’t have a conversation with them. If this describes your doctor, go somewhere else! If your doctor spends more time looking at the computer than at you, go find someone else! Do you need to make an urgent appointment, and there is no availability for a few days? Then go somewhere else and find a doctor who values your time as much as his/her own.
How about a surgeon? How do you find a good one? First, ask your family, friends and co-workers who they have used and if they were happy. The best source for a surgeon is the doctors or nurses who work directly with the surgeon; if you can get their input, you are more likely to find a good surgeon. Does this surgeon work on amateur and professional athletes? If your medical doctor sends you to a surgeon, it may be just because he is required to recommend this surgeon as being part of the same practice. Ask your doctor if he has used this surgeon or would trust this surgeon to operate on his own family.
One of the best determinants of a good result for surgery is the number of procedures that surgeon performs. If he only does that procedure a few times per year, you are better off finding a doctor who practices more. Surgeons who do more of the procedure have fewer complications. Also, doctors who have to spend a lot of time performing a surgery because they are less experienced will require you to have more anesthesia, which leads to significantly more problems and complications.
The bottom line to finding a good doctor or good surgeon is to get references from reliable sources (friends, family, other doctors), to make sure you have a good relationship with the doctor, and to have faith in his/her abilities. You need a surgeon who is good at what he/she does, so make sure that surgeon has a lot of experience and performs a lot of that specific surgery.