How can I find a good surgeon?

One of the most common ways to find a surgeon is to get a recommendation from a physician you know, like your primary-care doctor. You can put the question to him or her in a direct, personal way: “If you were having this type of surgery, which surgeon would be your first choice to do the operation?”
Dr. Vonda Wright, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Vonda Wright shares tips on the best way to find a good surgeon. Watch Dr. Wright's video for information on how to find a great doctor.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
The first thing to do if you need to have a surgical procedure, is to be a proactive patient. Ask the surgeon how many operations or patients he or she has done or treated for this particular disease and with this procedure. It may seem embarrassing, but it is your body. You deserve to know. Ask what the results have been; ask to speak to his former patients. Find out how many, if any, malpractice cases have been filed against him. It's easy. Go on the Internet. These are poor criteria, but you don't have the luxury of doing what I do.

What do I do? I call an anesthesiologist. Anesthesiologists are connoisseurs of surgical quality. They watch and observe the quality of surgery every day, and the quality of preoperative and postoperative judgments and care. I ask an anesthesiologist who the three best surgeons would be for this procedure at their hospital. (Do not do this the morning of surgery, when you see the anesthesiologist for that day's procedure. At that time, he or she is trying to reassure you.) If it's such a small hospital that the anesthesiologist can name only one or two, personally, I would go to a bigger hospital.
Dr. John J. Connolly
Healthcare Insurance & Policy

There are many kinds of surgeons so finding the right one depends first on the problem to be treated surgically – and remember – surgery should be the last treatment option considered and used only when other options are not feasible or have failed. Back pain, for example. Among the many types of surgeons are urological surgeons, thoracic surgeons (chest), orthopedic surgeons, colon and rectal surgeons, gynecological surgeons, plastic surgeons, various types of pediatric surgeons and of course, general surgeons. 

While the areas in which these surgeons operate is indicated by the title of their surgical sub-specialties, it is always important to make certain that the physician is board certified in that surgical specialty or sub-specialty. You can do so here For example, while many orthopedic surgeons will operate on hands, I would seek out a board certified hand surgeon which is a sub-specialty of orthopedics and of plastic and reconstructive surgery. Similarly, dermatologists are trained for minor surgery of the skin but for anything more than a few stitches, I would seek out a dermatological surgeon. 

Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery
Finding a good surgeon may include speaking with your primary physician, internt research, and referrals from nearby hospitals. Ask for 3 surgeons that are board certified in the specialty you are looking for. Check with your nearby hospital for recommendations of surgeons including chief of staff. Finally, research these doctors on the internet for credentials and training.
Ask your doctor for the names of well-skilled surgeons, as well as for names of highly regarded hospitals and outpatient surgical facilities. In some cases, the best surgeons and hospitals may be associated with medical institutions and travel will be involved. Check with your health care provider to see if the professionals and services needed are covered under your plan.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.