7 Tips for Choosing a Surgeon

If you need to have a surgical procedure, finding a Surgeon that you feel confident in and comfortable with is essential. Although primary care physicians frequently offer suggestions, many patients want to learn more about the Surgeons in their area before choosing one to perform their surgical procedure.

1. Talk to Colleagues

Ask for recommendations from hospital employees, nurses, and fellow physicians. Once you have a few names, you can begin your research.

2. Check with Insurance Provider

Even when a Surgeon, hospital or outpatient facility accepts the type of insurance you have, they are not necessarily a member of an insurance’s preferred provider organization (PPO) or considered a provider in a health maintenance organization (HMO). Therefore, if your insurance plan is an HMO or PPO, checking with your insurance company and the physician’s office before scheduling an initial consultation is vital; otherwise, you may be responsible for a larger than expected bill.

3. Independent or Hospital Employed?

While high quality Surgeons can be found in both independent and hospital practices, only independent physicians have the freedom and ability to guide your care and surgery to the best setting for your specific problem, and not just be limited to only one location and group of consultants that might not be best for you.

4. Research Physician

The internet has made it possible to research numerous Surgeons at once. Follow the four steps below to find out more about the Surgeons in your area.

Surgical Certification

Visit certificationmatters.org to find out if a Surgeon is:

  • Board Certified – the physician has completed a rigorous training program in a certain specialty and successfully completed the exam to earn this certification.
  • Board Eligible – the physician completed the residency program, but has not completed the exam to attain certification. Recent graduates have only a few years to earn their certification.

Confirm State Credentials

  • Determine licensing – To find out if a Surgeon is licensed in a specific state, visit the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) at fsmb.org, under “Policy and Education” choose ‘Consumer Resources,’ and then ‘Learn About Your Physician.’ You can also find contact information for your state’s medical board on the Consumer Resources page.

Check the Number of Procedures Performed, Ratings and Complication Rates

Consumers’ Checkbook and ProPublica offer information related to the number of procedures, complication rates, and Surgeon ratings. However, Surgeons who care for more frail patients can adjust their results based on their patients’ age, health status, and other important factors.

  • Propublica.org – Enter your zip code to find a directory of nearby hospitals where eight common procedures are performed. In addition, the Surgeons on staff who perform these procedures will also be visible. Information available includes the number of these eight procedures the Surgeon has done as well as complication rates.
  • SurgeonRatings.org – Enter your zip code, accepted distance of providers and choose a procedure to find a Surgeon. This site offers results for 12 kinds of surgery, encompasses more than 5 million operations and 50,000 Surgeons.

5. Look for Reviews/Previous Patients

Finding patient reviews online is a great way to learn more about your medical community. In addition, during your consultation, ask for references.

6. Questions to Ask Physician

Once you have narrowed your choices to two or three Surgeons, prepare a list of questions to ask at your initial consultations.

  1. What preliminary testing is appropriate?
  2. Is this procedure necessary and beneficial? If so, can this procedure be completed using minimally invasive surgery (MIS)?  Many surgical procedures that previously required open surgery can now be performed using MIS. These procedures offer patients numerous benefits, including less pain, fewer infections, quicker recovery and a shorter hospital stay (if any).
  3. Are you board certified? Is your certification current? The answer should be yes.
  4. How often do you perform this type of surgery? Do you specialize in it? Surgeons who perform certain procedures regularly improve their techniques, usually providing superior results and making them better equipped to handle any complications that may arise.
  5. Have you encountered complications while performing this procedure? A good Surgeon is willing to talk about any negative outcomes.
  6. What are the risks of having this procedure? Making an informed decision is essential, especially when the surgery being performed is elective. Your Surgeon should provide an accurate picture of what to expect.
  7. Which hospitals are you affiliated with? What is the hospital’s infection rate? What facility is best for my condition / procedure.  
  8. Do you have any patient references I can review? Most Surgeons will have letters from previous patients.

7. Schedule Consultation

Now that you have narrowed your list of Surgeons, schedule your consultations. You should bring your list of questions and a pen to each consultation: Make sure you use a separate list for each Surgeon, writing the Surgeon’s name/facility at the top.

Why Choose The Surgery Group?

At The Surgery Group, we remain fully committed to providing patients with safe, state-of-the-art alternatives to open surgery. Since MIS is not always possible, our Board-Certified Surgeons remain well-versed in performing conventional surgical procedures as well. We enhance our skills and expertise by remaining abreast of the technological and surgical advancements in our field.

Our Surgeons offer unmatched precision when performing MIS, open surgery and robot-assisted surgeries. If you are looking for an experienced, caring and compassionate Surgeon, contact us today at 850.444.4777. We serve Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, Milton, Pace, Cantonment, Perdido, Foley, Fort Walton Beach, Atmore, Brewton, South Alabama, Crestview, as well as surrounding areas.