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Patients Often 'Clam Up' On Questions About Surgeons

Armen Hareyan's picture

The WallStreet Journal on Wednesday examined how, although "many Web savvypatients today can ask a doctor about minute details of their circulatorysystem or cancer treatment, when it comes to asking the really tough, personalquestions, they often clam up." According to the Journal,when "going under the knife, patients are often too intimidated to ask howqualified a surgeon is or what safety procedures are in place." However,"as complications and errors dog some surgical procedures, experts say itis increasingly crucial for patients to vet their surgeons and take an activerole in preventing mistakes," the Journal reports.

Hospitals, state medical boards, medical specialty societies and not-for-profitdisease advocacy organizations have begun to offer Web sites, books and listsof questions to "help patients select qualified surgeons, prepare foroperations and overcome the fear that often inhibits them from asking toughquestions," according to the Journal.

Patients scheduled for surgery should ask about the success rate of theiroperating surgeons, the number of procedures that their surgeons have performedand whether their surgeons have any personal health issues that would interferewith their ability to complete the operation, according to Thomas Russell, asurgeon and executive director of the American Collegeof Surgeons.Patients also should ask about potential post-operative complications of theirsurgery, he said (Landro, Wall Street Journal, 1/9).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.