Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Letter from a Patient and Some Advice When Choosing a Doctor

This month, I received a letter from a patient that just made me feel good. Most people have excellent outcomes after hip or knee replacement surgery, but it’s not every day that they write a letter to tell you about their experience. Nancy, a teacher from Westchester, wrote a letter thanking me and the staff at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) for “a most successful and amazing experience.”  

She had decided to have hip replacement due to intense pain that kept her up at night and made it difficult for her to do the job she loved. Nancy had tried physical therapy, but after 25 sessions and little pain relief, she thought it was time to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. She said three previous joint replacement patients had recommended me, so she felt very comfortable making an appointment. She was also aware of the excellent reputation of Hospital for Special Surgery. Her x-rays, medical history and exam showed that advanced arthritis was causing her pain. She felt confident in her decision to have hip replacement surgery. 

In her letter, she said it was reassuring to know exactly what to expect before surgery, and she was impressed with the attention she received from everyone at HSS. “The hospital experience was everything I could have hoped for and more – from check-in to the recovery room staff and PT personnel as well as the most kind and supportive nurses on the 10th floor…every single person made me feel like they were there to make my experience successful and comfortable.”  

Her letter confirmed that she went into surgery with a positive attitude and without hesitation: “I can’t even imagine a better surgery experience… you were so calm and confident and reassuring before and after surgery. You truly deserve the reputation that precedes you… It’s now almost my 11th week post surgery and I still can’t believe how well I’m walking and moving around in general.  The outpatient PT person is really impressed with my recovery.”

It’s really gratifying to receive a letter like this from a patient. We strive to provide patient care of the highest caliber, to understand each individual’s needs, and to allay any concerns a patient may have. A letter like Nancy’s shows us that we’re doing our job and achieving our goals.

I firmly believe that every patient has the right to expect high quality and compassionate care for whatever medical problem they may be facing and no matter where they are treated. This is especially important for anyone considering surgery. In her letter, Nancy outlined the factors that made her experience so successful, and if you’re considering surgery, I would like to offer the following recommendations to help you choose the right doctor: 

One of the first considerations is whether or not the doctor takes your insurance, and if not, could you go out of network? If you see a physician who is out of network, find out how much of the procedure will be covered and if other professionals involved in your care, such as an anesthesiologist, will be covered. 
     
Get recommendations for a physician from friends, relatives or from a family doctor. 

Check credentials. See where the physician received his or her education and training. Make sure a doctor is board certified, and don't hesitate to ask.

Be mindful of whether the physician approaches you with professionalism and confidence. You want a confident physician who respects you and appears genuinely concerned for your well-being.  

Don’t rely solely on an advertisement or a physician’s website when choosing a doctor. Advertisements and information displayed on the Internet are not regulated. Ads and websites can often provide useful information, but remember to check the doctor's experience and credentials.

Choose a doctor with whom you feel comfortable and who inspires confidence. Make sure the physician is willing to take the time to answer all of your questions in non-technical terms. If you feel rushed or believe your questions have not been answered in a satisfactory manner, look for another physician.

Make sure the doctor explains what you can expect in terms of the surgery itself, the final outcome and recovery time. The physician should discuss possible risks as well as benefits.

What about the doctor’s staff? Are they gracious and respectful? When you set up pre-surgical testing or receive information about the surgery, is everything explained thoroughly? 

If the doctor dismisses any concerns you may have, dismiss the doctor.

Having a good rapport with your physician will give you a better chance for a successful surgery

© 2016 Geoffrey Westrich, MD. All rights reserved.  


6 comments:

  1. Most patients who have a hip replacement are very happy with the results and are glad that they have had it done.
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