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Surgery often is necessary and could save your life. But any time a doctor performs an invasive procedure, there also are risks that need to be considered.
Patients should understand why they need a recommended surgery and carefully weigh the risks and benefits before deciding whether to undergo the procedure.
Dr. Paul Ruggieri, a surgeon and author of “The Cost of Cutting,” explains that some of his patients are uncertain why they were referred to his office by their primary care physician.
“Sitting in a surgeon’s office, you should know why you’re there,” he says. “If you know what your problem is going in, you’ll know what the answers are going out. That way you can talk to your surgeon.”
Dr. Ruggieri shares five questions you should ask your doctor before you have surgery:
- Is surgery the best solution to my problem? And, if so, which approach – laparoscopic or open – is best?
- Is there an alternative treatment other than surgery?
- How often do you perform my specific operation? Dr. Ruggieri says you should look for a doctor who performs the procedure more than once a month. ER physician Dr. Travis Stork suggests seeking a specialist when possible.
- What are the complications of my surgery, have they happened under your hands and how did you deal with it? “I think that’s a shocker question for the surgeon,” Dr. Ruggieri says. “If you do enough surgery, it’s going to happen, and you have to answer that.”
- Who will be directly involved in surgery and postoperative care other than you? Are you going to see me every day after the surgery? Dr. Ruggieri says your surgeon should see you after the procedure. “That’s a vital part of your recovery, because complications, if they are caught early, they can be dealt with successfully,” he says.