NPR

Do You Need That Surgery? How To Decide, And How To Pick A Surgeon If You Do

When you have a serious health problem that calls for surgery, the last thing you need is the stress of navigating the health care system to find a skilled surgeon. We have tips to make it easier.
Choosing a surgeon can be tricky. It starts with making sure you really need the surgery, and then finding an experienced specialist you can trust. Source: Morsa Images

So your doctor has told you some of the scariest words you can possibly hear: You need surgery. What do you do next?

If you need an emergency surgery, like an appendectomy or a procedure after an accident, you usually don't have much choice in the matter. You'll likely get it done in the hospital where you went to the emergency room, unless the hospital isn't equipped to do it. If that's the case, you'll get transferred.

But if you've been told you need a less-than-urgent procedure — something like a joint replacement, or a surgery to remove cancer — you actually have quite a bit a choice about where you go. That choice can make a big difference to your health.

When my patients come to me, a primary care doctor, and ask for my advice in picking a surgeon, I usually start by asking them a few questions.

Do you need it?

The first and most important step is to figure out if surgery is actually

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