You are among the 18,000,000 Americans who are to undergo surgery this year. The single most important factor in the success of your operation is your choice of physician. Important as this is, most people are uncertain as to how to go about it. Here are some guidelines to assist you in selecting a qualified surgeon:
- Check on board-certification – The Directory of Medical Specialists lists all board-certified surgeons. Certification by a specialty board is a good indication that the surgeon is qualified to perform your operation.
- Ask to see credentials – It is proper to ask a surgeon to see his or her credentials and to study them carefully. The doctor should welcome your questions about his or her background. Obscure medical schools that you might not recognize may be of good quality but you would be wise to find out more about them.
- Membership in the American College of Surgeons – Membership in the American College of Surgeons is another good indication that a surgeon is qualified to perform your operation.
- Consult the Directory of Medical Specialists – If you are looking for a surgeon on your own, begin by checking his or her training, or for your own reassurance, you may wish to check on the qualifications of the surgeon suggested by your family physician. Check your local library for the current Directory of Medical Specialists. You should insist on a Board Certified surgeon.
- Consult your family doctor – Consult your family physician. If you have confidence in your family doctor, you will have confidence in the surgeon he or she recommends. Through years of experience in referring patients to specialists, he or she becomes familiar with their qualifications. If you do not have a family doctor, a useful procedure is to ask any other physician whom you know and trust.
- Contact the American Board Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, (ASPRS), at 1-800-635-0635 – The ASPRS can give you information with respect to the Board Certification Status of any Plastic Surgeon. If you call this number, they can confirm that your Doctor is part of the largest umbrella organization for Board Certified Plastic Surgeons.
- Check hospital affiliations – A surgeon’s hospital affiliation is another yard stick of his or her competence. Qualified hospitals have been accredited by the Joint Commission of the Accreditation of Hospitals. For a surgeon to be granted surgical privileges in the best hospitals, he or she must have demonstrated competence.
- An important decision – A neighbor or a friend may have had good results with a particular surgeon who performs the same type of operation that you plan on, but again, you should attempt to verify his or her qualifications by using these guidelines. If you are in doubt about a surgeon’s qualifications, it may be wise to seek consultation with more than one surgeon before making a commitment.