Know Your Surgeon

Know Your SurgeonIf you are facing surgery you are not alone. Every year, more than 15 million Americans have surgery.

Most operations are not emergencies and are considered elective surgery. This means that you have time to learn about your operation to be sure it is the best treatment for you. You also have time to work with your surgeon to make the surgery as safe as possible. Be active in your health care to have quality care.

Your doctors should welcome questions. If you do not understand the answers, ask the doctor to explain them clearly. Bring a friend or relative along to help you talk with the doctor. Research shows that patients who are well informed about their treatment are more satisfied with their results.

Your regular doctor is generally your primary care doctor. He or she may be the doctor who suggests that you have surgery and may refer you to a surgeon. If you are fortunate enough, your doctor will be the one who performs your surgery.

Know Your Surgeon
If your doctor isn’t the one performing your surgery, check with your insurance company to find out if you may choose a surgeon or hospital or if you must use ones selected by the insurer. Ask your doctor about which hospital has the best care and results for your condition if you have more than one hospital to choose from. Studies show that for some types of surgery, numbers count—using a surgeon or hospital that does more of a particular type of surgery can improve your chance of a good result.

If you do have a choice of surgeon or hospital, ask the surgeon the following questions:

What are your qualifications?
You will want to know that your surgeon is experienced and qualified to perform the operation. Many surgeons have taken special training and passed exams given by a national board of surgeons. Ask if your surgeon is “board certified” in surgery. Some surgeons also have the letters F.A.C.S. after their name.

This means they are Fellows of the American College of Surgeons and have passed another review by surgeons of their surgical skills.

How much experience do you have doing this operation?
One way to reduce the risks of surgery is to choose a surgeon who has been well trained to do the surgery and has plenty of experience doing it. You can ask your surgeon about his or her recent record of successes and complications with this surgery. If it is easier for you, you can discuss the surgeon’s qualifications with your primary care doctor.

How can you know how experienced your surgeon is?
Most surgeons are honest with the answers they give about their surgical experience. Ask your surgeon:
• How many times have you done this surgery?
• How many did you perform last month? Last year?
• When did you start performing this surgery?

At which hospital will the operation be done?
Most surgeons work at one or two local hospitals. Find out where your surgery will be done and how often the same operation is done there. Research shows that patients often do better when they have surgery in hospitals with more experience in the operation. Ask your doctor about the success rate at the hospitals you can choose between. The success rate is the number of patients who improve divided by all patients having that operation at a hospital. If your surgeon suggests using a hospital with a lower success rate for your surgery, find out why.

Ask the surgeon how long you will be in the hospital.
Until recently, most patients who had surgery stayed in the hospital overnight for 1 or more days. Today, many patients have surgery done as an outpatient in a doctor’s office, a special surgical center, or a day surgery unit of a hospital. These patients have an operation and go home the same day. Outpatient surgery is less expensive because you do not have to pay for staying in a hospital room.

How much experience do you have doing this operation?
One way to reduce the risks of surgery is to choose a surgeon who has been well trained to do the surgery and has plenty of experience doing it. You can ask your surgeon about his or her recent record of successes and complications with this surgery. If it is easier for you, you can discuss the surgeon’s qualifications with your primary care doctor.

How can you know how experienced your surgeon is?
Most surgeons are honest with the answers they give about their surgical experience. Ask your surgeon:
• How many times have you done this surgery?
• How many did you perform last month? Last year?
• When did you start performing this surgery?

At which hospital will the operation be done?
Most surgeons work at one or two local hospitals. Find out where your surgery will be done and how often the same operation is done there. Research shows that patients often do better when they have surgery in hospitals with more experience in the operation. Ask your doctor about the success rate at the hospitals you can choose between. The success rate is the number of patients who improve divided by all patients having that operation at a hospital. If your surgeon suggests using a hospital with a lower success rate for your surgery, find out why.

Ask the surgeon how long you will be in the hospital.
Until recently, most patients who had surgery stayed in the hospital overnight for 1 or more days. Today, many patients have surgery done as an outpatient in a doctor’s office, a special surgical center, or a day surgery unit of a hospital. These patients have an operation and go home the same day. Outpatient surgery is less expensive because you do not have to pay for staying in a hospital room.

Laura C. Reese, D.O.
Board Certified, Orthopedic Surgeon
Laura C. Reese, DO specializes in Orthopedic Surgery. Dr. Reese graduated from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1991 and has been practicing for 25 years. She is board certified and fellowship trained. Dr. Reese is affiliated with Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, Kings Daughters Medical Center, and Appalachian Regional Hosiptal. Dr. Reese accepts multiple insurance plans including Medicare.

Ashland Orthopedic Associates, P.S.C.
606-833-5505
700 St. Christopher Drive
Medical Office Building 3,
Suite 200, Ashland, KY

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