Published on Apr 05, 2017 and last reviewed on Sep 07, 2018 - 4 min read
This is a checklist regarding what patients should and must ask their surgeons and other doctors involved, before surgery.
Undergoing surgery can be a life-changing event. No one would like to bear pain unless the risk versus benefit suggests a significant betterment in the quality of life. How to choose a computer and printer is readily available, but little is available as a checklist regarding what patients should or must ask their surgeons. Do most patients know about how to choose a hospital for surgery? The answer to that question lies in the fact that even in advanced countries, the third most common cause of death in admitted patients is a medical error by hospitals and their employees.
Following are the things which I think every patient should ask before she or he decides to undergo surgery. Likewise, I feel this information should be made available to patients when requested.
First Is the Primary Physician or Medical Specialist:
This is from where the patient is referred for surgery. It is the responsibility of the medical specialist to diagnose the disease and evaluate the realistic chances of success of medical treatment in a said patient. Also, if surgery would be required, refer to a competent surgeon. He or she is supposed to make sure that it is not too late or advanced to make surgery complicated, risky, and sometimes even useless.
Following are the questions that I think every patient should ask the physician or medical specialist, irrespective of surgery as an option for treatment or not:
Second Is the Surgeon:
Both the qualification and the training of a surgeon is very important. But even more relevant is his or her experience in the specific surgery that the patient requires. People need to understand that most surgeons qualified with a specific degree are interested in only a handful of surgeries permitted by that degree and perform it well. But there is no publicly accessible database of these 'surgeon preferred operations,' and no way of swapping patients so that there is the best match between the needful patient to the most interested and competent surgeon. Thus, most surgeons attempt to do whatever they can safely, for the patients that visit them. So as a patient one should try to get the following information:
Third Is the Anesthesiologist:
The anesthesiologist is usually consulted after the surgeon and before the actual admission in the hospital for surgery. If the procedure is to be conducted under local anesthesia, then it is the surgeon with whom the patient should have this conversation. For all other types of anesthesia, an anesthesiologist is involved.
If I am a patient and have the opportunity, I would like to know all of the above before undergoing major surgery at a specific hospital. Neither this list nor any such list can be absolute. It is just to help you choose wisely. For the doctors, I believe a voluntary generation of these statistics, and disclosure of all that information will not only contribute to reducing the confusion in patients mind and build trust (thus decreasing litigation). It will also go a long way in weeding out the quacks and sub-standard treatment practices, thereby improving the outcomes for both the patient and the hospital.
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