Almost any surgery can cause serious complications, so you always want to be in good surgical hands. With so many doctors, how do you know which is the right surgeon for you?
One indicator to note is how often surgeons perform a procedure. That can be vital for operations that are relatively new, such as gastric bypass surgery for treating obesity. While many surgeons have started performing the operation, not all are qualified. A September 2009 study found that the risk of serious complications from the most common form of gastric bypass surgery fell by 10 percent for every additional 10 cases per year the surgeon had performed.
However, quantity isn’t the only or even most important measure of quality. A May 2009 study of 81,289 adults who had heart bypass surgery, for example, found that success depended more on how well surgeons and hospitals adhered to various markers of surgical excellence—such as using the appropriate technique during the operation and prescribing the right medications before and afterward—than the number of procedures performed.
Don’t be afraid to question your doctor. Ask your prospective surgeon these questions before going under the knife:
- Is surgery really necessary? The best way to avoid surgical errors is to avoid surgery entirely, so ask about the effectiveness and safety of alternatives. Compare those with the risks of surgery and the chance that it will help you.
- Is your board certification up to date? Look for a surgeon who has undergone the necessary training, even after being in clinical practice, to maintain board certification in his or her specialty.
- What’s your experience? Ask how many operations the surgeon has performed in the past year and how that compares with his or her peers. You don’t have to find the busiest, most experienced surgeon in North America, but it’s important to avoid the doctor who does very few of the procedures, especially in a place that does very few.
- What are your success, failure, and complication rates? Not all will be able or willing to tell you, but the good ones should be.
- What’s the hospital’s infection rate? Seventeen states now make that information public, and many hospitals report their rates voluntarily.
Just remember to worry less about bedside manner and more about the final outcome. If you have to choose between a nice surgeon and a highly skilled surgeon, the skilled surgeon is the better bet.
If you live in the Las Vegas area and are looking for a surgeon who is both compassionate and highly skilled, Dr. Tsuda at VIP Surg is everything you’re searching for. Whether you have general surgery needs or are interested in bariatric surgery, he and his team of experts have the experience and skill for you to have an excellent outcome.