Let’s say your family doctor tells you that you have torn a ligament in you knee when you fell off that ladder while painting the kitchen. Or, the chest pain which resulted in a trip to the local emergency room lead to the diagnosis of a clogged cardiac artery and the recommendation of a cardiac catheterization procedure to clear the artery. In either of these common situations you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in a certain medical procedure or surgery… but also a doctor totally new and unknown to you. What next?
The two most important questions are:
1. Are you board certified in your field of medical specialty? Doctors attend medical school, complete residency programs, and start treating patients. This training is not enough! Chose a doctor who has completed additional training and passed an examination for board certification in his/her specialty. Would you hire a lawyer who went to law school but never passed the bar examination? Doubtful! Don’t choose a doctor that way. Go to the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to learn if your doctor is board certified.
2. What are the potential complications and risks from the proposed treatment or surgery? What can go wrong and what are the consequences of something going wrong? Don’t settle for the disclosure that ”nationally only 1% of patients suffer adverse complications” from the recommended procedure! Ask what your doctor’s complication rate is – not what the national average is!
Be a smart patient and ask these important questions – your health and maybe your life depend on it!!