Windber Medical Center

WIN 2014

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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o one looks forward to major surgery, but doing your part to prep before scheduling the procedure can help make the experience a little less stressful. Taking time to evaluate your options, choosing the right surgeon and facility, and asking detailed questions so you know exactly what to expect are all good pre-surgery strategies, say the experts. "Patients receiving advanced surgical services need to consider two main variables," says Dr. Michael Bruce, a general surgeon at Saint Agnes Medical Center, Fresno, Calif. "One is the doctor, with whom you should have good rapport, trust and communication. The other is the hospital, because most surgeons don't offer surgery services in the office. Evaluating these areas prior to surgery will ensure you can make educated decisions regarding your procedure." N WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A SURGEON When you're evaluating physicians, make sure the doctor who will be performing your procedure is board certified. The certification depends on the doctor's specialty, but look for certification from organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American Board of Medical Specialties and The Joint Commission. "People who are board certified have gone through evaluation by national groups," says Dr. Bradford Keeler, a general surgeon at McKee Medical Center, Loveland, Colo. "To be certified, you often need to make a commitment to ongoing education to ensure your practices are up to date, so certification is an expression of knowledge in the field." Your surgeon should also discuss several different treatment options for your condition. "I would be suspicious of a physician who said you shouldn't get a second opinion." ~ Dr. Bradford Keeler, McKee Medical Center, Loveland, Colo. "Don't talk to a surgeon who only offers one approach," says Dr. Keeler. "If the operation can be done three or four different ways, you'll get your most honest opinion from a surgeon who does them all and can help you decide which is best for you." Your surgeon should also be a good communicator, says Dr. Bruce, and you should feel comfortable speaking with him or her and asking questions. You also need to be able to easily speak to the surgeon's office personnel and schedule appointments. A problem with communication before surgery could signal a problem after surgery, when communication is equally—if not more—important. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Be sure to ask your doctor questions about both his or her experience and the procedure itself. "If you organize your thoughts prior to the visit and write down your questions, you will be more satisfied with the encounter," says Dr. Mario Leyba, a general surgeon at Lovelace Women's Hospital, Albuquerque, N.M. "In addition, when family is present, they may add input important to the encounter. Be organized in your agenda and have your medical history and medications written down. This allows more time to focus on questions and less time on collecting data." Dr. Keeler recommends asking your doctor how he or she feels about you getting a second opinion about the surgical procedure. "A doctor should be open and honest," he says. "I tell my patients, 'This is all about you. You are entitled to a second opinion. I believe the other person will tell you the same, but if it makes you more comfortable, please go ahead and get a second opinion.' I would be suspicious of a physician who said you shouldn't get a second opinion." Patients should also ask their doctor about the risks of surgery and any possible alternatives, and what to expect after surgery, including recovery time, length of hospital stay, pain control and restrictions on eating and moving. SMOOTH OPERATIONS Select a facility where the surgeon has experience operating, says Dr. Keith Zuccala, chairman of the department of surgery at Western Connecticut Health Network, Danbury, Conn. "The surgeon should be able to tell you about his or her own personal experiences at the hospital, as well as how well that hospital's program performs," he says. Some doctors spend more time at certain hospitals than others, and you will receive more attentive care at a hospital frequently used by your surgeon. You can also do online research about the hospitals you're considering. The searchable database at Medicare.gov lets you view specific hospital data, including patient survey results and how the hospital compares with state and national averages on criteria such as heart attack care, surgical care, readmissions, complications and more. Consider not only the facility's strength in the specialty under which your surgery falls, but also related programs such as counseling, nutrition, rehabilitation and anesthesiology. "Patients need to place themselves in the best facility possible so they can achieve the greatest chance of success," says Dr. Zuccala. • SHUTTERSTOCK w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m W I N T E R 2 014 SPI RIT O F WOM EN 11

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