How many times have you performed this surgical procedure?

That’s a smart question to ask when you’ve been told you need surgery. Not how many times has your partner in the practice performed the procedure, but how many times have you – the person operating on me –  done this before. It’s certainly a reasonable question to ask and more importantly, it’s an appropriate question.  I posed that very question recently to a nurse practitioner who was preparing to perform a surgical procedure on me.  Without hesitation or anger, she politely told me exactly how many times she had done this before.  As it turns out, she was quite experienced.  Without hesitation or anger, I invited her to proceed.

Whenever you need to undergo surgery, your health and safety are at risk.  Even under the best circumstances, “stuff” happens. Since that’s the case, it’s wise to put as many chips on your side of the table as you possibly can.  You may do that simply by asking your physician how often he/she has performed this procedure, is this a new technology/new equipment that he’s quite familiar with and what the complication rates have been post-operatively.  Don’t be shy or feel intimidated.  We’re talking about your well-being here.

In addition, unless this is an emergency procedure, you will likely have some time to do your homework.  Do go online and read up.  There may be some information that scares you, but you’ll also be able to access lots of useful particulars to assist you in making your decision. You’ll then be well prepared to formulate pertinent questions and discuss your concerns.  After you’ve had a thoughtful, in depth conversation with the healthcare professional,  be sure to take some time and sort it all out in your head.  No need to rush.  You may even want to get a second opinion.  Find out what you can until you feel as comfortable as possible.

If after you’ve done your research, asked your questions and you’re still not feeling confident, trust what you’re feeling and continue your search. That just may be the smartest decision you’ve ever made.

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