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Needing surgery is scary on its own. The idea of researching and choosing a surgeon can make it that much more overwhelming. While there is always the potential for complications and injuries, most experts believe that many surgical injuries and complications are preventable. Knowing you are in good surgical hands when heading into anesthesia is extremely reassuring. To make your surgical experience better, use these tips to find the best surgeon for you.

Talk to the nurses. There is no one who knows the doctors and surgeons better than the Nursing Director and their nurses. Nurses spend a large portion of their days taking care of the surgeon’s patients and are able to see the successes and mistakes of the surgeons first hand. However, don’t limit yourself to just the floor nurses. Let the nursing director know you have questions and would like to speak to the OR (operating room) nursing staff and anesthesia personnel.

When speaking with the nurses, it is important to use some tact. A surgeon can be considered a boss, and it may be difficult for the nurses to say whether a surgeon isn’t the best at his job. Therefore, it is beneficial to ask the questions in specific ways to allow them to tell you what you need to know without risking their job or comfortability. Here are a few examples of questions to ask:

  • If one of your parents needed a surgery, would you recommend them to this surgeon?
  • Can you tell me of an amazing success story about this surgeon?
  • Would you choose this surgeon if you needed surgery?

Look for support groups. One great and seemingly unlikely place to find the best surgeon is through surgery and condition support groups. This is especially helpful for people with rare or highly specialized surgeries and illnesses. This can be a great resource for not only finding the right surgeon but also for understanding what you’re dealing with and learning how to cope. Not all advice will be great, however, you may find some legitimate complaints and referrals from other’s past experiences.

Ask Questions. You’ve already talked with the nursing staff and visited with your local support group. Maybe you’ve even gone online and researched. You may feel informed, but still a little unsure. At this point, the next step is to interview your surgeon. And yes, I mean interview. You are the surgeon’s boss, not the other way around. Question them, learn about them, and access if you feel comfortable moving forward with this surgeon. While it can seem a little intimidating, going to the interviewed prepared can make a significant difference. Here are a few questions to ask your surgeon before moving forward:

  • Is surgery necessary?
  • What are the alternatives?
  • What are your success, failure, and complication rates?
  • What is the hospital’s infection rate?

Credentials. Every state has a medical board that licenses physicians and participates in disciplinary action for surgeons who have issues with their practice. Most states also include a record of disciplinary actions along with. If your state makes this information available to the public, research your surgeon.