How do I find the best surgeon?
July 13, 2011 7:30 PM   Subscribe

How does a lay person go about finding the most experienced/skilled surgeon for a given procedure?

(If it matters, the particular procedure I am interested in is removal of a cholesteatoma, which I understand can be a difficult surgery.)
posted by event to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
A specialist recommended me that the best way is to call the department of a research hospital and talk to the administrative assistant for the department. Don't call the office that deals with patients, call the actual department and ask which surgeon is the busiest and does your procedure most often.

That was when I was helping someone in another town. If you're having the procedure done in-town, go with the recommendations of your specialists, or you could try the method mine suggested.

If you have no reason to doubt the judgment of your specialists, I would trust their advice.
posted by vincele at 7:44 PM on July 13, 2011

Oops, posted too soon. If you do call around, that would be the first step. You'd want to do at least a couple of different consults. Good luck with the procedure.
posted by vincele at 7:46 PM on July 13, 2011

If you can manage it, waylay a surgical nurse at the hospital where you're going to have the surgery or, better yet, a medical transcriptionist from the Medical Records Department. Don't tell anyone what you're doing - just hang around or find some other reason to talk to one of them - because they're not allowed to give you recommendations, obviously. When you finally corner a transcriptionist or a surgical nurse, immediately remind them that you don't know and don't want to know their name, but your sister has to have this surgery and you've no idea who to get for the surgeon - ask them this way, "If it were your sister who was facing this surgery, could you please tell me who you'd send her to? I understand your position, but I'm totally lost here and really need someone who knows the different surgeons to point me in the right direction."

I was a medical transcriptionist for eleven years and I can promise you I knew which surgeons got it right, infection-free, the first time and which ones always had do-overs or infections. When my mother, who lived in another state, needed emergency colon surgery I headed straight for the Medical Transcription Dept and cornered a transcriptionist who was on her way out of the office for her coffee break. I asked her just as I described above and we had the most amazing surgeon ever for an operation that turned out to be much more complicated than was expected.

Good luck to you.
posted by aryma at 7:47 PM on July 13, 2011 [12 favorites]

You are right to want to inquire. This is not routine stuff.

But I think that the best recommendation will come from an ENT surgeon in the area. Most ENTs will not want to try to do this themselves, so they will want to refer. If he says he can do it, ask him for a recommendation anyway.
posted by yclipse at 2:03 AM on July 14, 2011

You could try asking your GP and/or doctor who recommended the procedure, if they were having the same procedure, who they would select as their surgeon.

Not very scientific, but could get you started in the right direction at least.
posted by thatguyjeff at 7:38 AM on July 14, 2011

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