Surgery Prep: Eight Questions to ask your Surgeon

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?

Grab a pen and paper, because we have the information you need to know.

Theresa Griffiths lets her new pup pull her around. But when it comes to her health, Theresa is in control.

She recently needed a hysterectomy and spent three months researching surgeons.

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

Doctor Arnold Advincula says, patients should be asking 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," says Arnold Advincula, MD, of the Florida Hospital Celebration Health.

He says you should always ask; what is your success rate for this procedure, and, what is your complication rate?

Those numbers should be equal to or less than national averages.

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

You should also ask; how many of these procedures have you performed? Where did you receive your training? And what medical societies do you belong to?

"It's important to find out, you know, what your doctor's qualifications,” says Dr. Advincula. “Are they qualified to be doing the procedure?"

When it comes to the actual surgery, ask; what are the benefits and risks? Why am I having this done? And are there any alternatives?

Theresa's surgery was a success and 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," says Griffiths.

The doctor says one of the biggest mistakes patients make is not getting a second opinion before a major operation.

He also tells us, when researching different procedures online, it's important that you visit sites affiliated with major medical centers, because there is a lot of conflicting information on the web.

Surgery Prep: Eight Questions to ask your Surgeon
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BACKGROUND: Every year, more than 15 million Americans have surgery. It is important for patients to be informed about the surgery being recommended, particularly if it is elective surgery (an operation the patient chooses to have performed), rather than an emergency surgery (also called urgent surgery). All surgeries have risks and benefits which the patient should familiarize themselves with before deciding whether the procedure is appropriate for them. (SOURCE: www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/diagnosis-treatment/surgery/questions; www.hopkinsmedicine.org)

TIPS FOR COMMUNICATING WITH THE PHYSICIAN: It is important for patients to communicate their feelings, questions, and concerns with their physician prior to having surgery. The following are suggestions that may help to improve patient/physician communication:

* If you do not understand your physician's responses, ask questions until you do.
* Take notes, or ask a family member or friend to accompany you and take notes for you. You can also bring a tape recorder, so you can review information later.
* Ask your physician to write down his or her instructions, if necessary.
* Ask your physician where you can find printed material about your condition. Many physicians have this information in their offices.
(SOURCE: www.hopkinsmedicine.org)

DETERMINING THE COSTS OF THE PROCEDURE: Before surgery, the topic of how much the procedure is going to cost, should come up. Fees may include, but are not limited to, the following:

* The surgeon's fee for surgery
* Hospital fees (if hospitalization is required)
* Separate billing for other services, such as the assisting surgeon, anesthesiologist, and other medical consultants.
(SOURCE: www.hopkinsmedicine.org)

OBTAINING A SECOND OPINION: Asking another physician or surgeon for a second opinion is very important. A second opinion can help the patient make an informed decision about the best treatment for their condition and can help them weigh the risks and benefits against possible alternatives to the surgery. Several health plans now require and will pay for patients to obtain a second opinion on certain nonemergency procedures. Medicare may also pay for patients to obtain a second opinion. (SOURCE: www.hopkinsmedicine.org)

For More Information, Contact:

Sheri Brammer
Florida Hospital Celebration Health
Phone: (407) 303-4033

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