Healthbeat

Surgery prep: Eight questions to ask your surgeon

Monday, June 03, 2013

Every year, more than 15 million people in the U.S. have some kind of surgery. When it's your turn to go under the knife, will you know the important questions to ask your doctor?

Theresa Griffiths recently needed a hysterectomy and spent three months researching surgeons.

"I wanted to be fully informed and make a wise decision on who I'm entrusting my health to. I came in with a notepad of questions, and I wrote them all down," said Theresa Griffiths.

According to some doctors, Griffiths is among the few patients who come prepared to ask questions.

Dr. Arnold Advincula says patients should ask their surgeons more questions.

"Unfortunately, a lot of patients put less effort into figuring out their doctors than they do when they go out and buy a car," said Dr. Advincula.

He says these are important questions to ask:

What is your success rate for this procedure?
What is your complication rate?

These numbers should be equal to or less than the national averages.

"I think if your surgeon has difficulty answering those questions, then you should think twice," said Dr. Advincula.

He also urges patients to ask the following:

How many of these procedures have you performed?
Where did you receive your training?
What medical societies do you belong to?

"It's important to find out what your doctor's qualifications are. Are they qualified to be doing the procedure," said Dr. Advincula.

When it comes to the actual surgery, he says you should ask:

What are the benefits and risks?
Why am I having this done?
Are there any alternatives?

Griffiths' surgery was a success. She says having her questions answered gave her peace of mind.

"You have every right in the world to really be extremely informed about such a critical issue in your life," said Griffiths.

Dr. Advincula says one of the biggest mistakes patients make is not getting a second opinion before a major operation. He also says, when researching different procedures online, it's important to visit sites affiliated with major medical centers because there is often conflicting information on the web.


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