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Questions to ask surgeons before having surgery

April 22, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Every year, more than 15 million people in the U.S. have some kind of surgery. But when it's your turn to go under the knife, will you know the important questions to ask your surgeon?

Theresa Griffiths lets her new pup pull her around. But when it comes to her health, Griffiths 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'm entrusting my health to," she said. "I came in with a notepad of questions, and I wrote them all down."

Dr. 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," he said.

He says you should always ask:

-What is your success rate for this procedure?

-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," Advincula said.

You should also ask:

-How many of these procedures have you performed?

-Where did you receive your training?

-What medical societies do you belong to?

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

When it comes to the actual surgery, ask:

-What are the benefits and risks?

-Why am I having this done?

-Are there any alternatives?

Griffiths' 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," she said.

Experts say one of the biggest mistakes patients make is not getting a second opinion before a major operation. And if you're searching the Internet for information, make sure to use websites associated with major universities because there's a lot of conflicting information on the web.


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