Surgery is a major life event and it is literally a life and death event. Therefore, when you need surgery, you need to make sure that you get the best surgeon available. However, selecting a surgeon is not as simple as picking one out of the phonebook or from an online search. You will learn what to look for when you are looking for a surgeon for yourself or your loved one. There are some simple, but not well-known, attributes to look for when selecting your surgeon.
The first thing to look for when searching for a surgeon is to make sure your surgeon is qualified. In order to make sure your surgeon is competent and qualified, the American College of Surgeons recommends that you look for the three following attributes: your surgeon is board certified, has ambulatory or hospital accreditation and is a Fellow of the American Colleges of Surgeons.[i]
It is essential to understand the criteria so you can locate a qualified surgeon. Being board certified entails earning a medical degree, either an OD (Doctor of Osteopathy) or a MD (Medical Doctorate), passing a residency, of three to eight years and passing a written and/or oral examination. After a medical doctor becomes board certified, the certification is valid between six to ten years and must be renewed by attending continuing education classes. Such board certification can be verified independently online.i Facility accreditation, through ambulatory or hospital accreditation, simply means a hospital, surgery or specialty treatment center is focused on providing its patients top-notch health care and has proven it can meet these commitments. If you see “FACS” after the surgeon’s name, you will see that your surgeon is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). Having the “FACS” after their name means that the surgeon has voluntarily submitted to and passed standards according to the American College of Surgeons. The criteria to be ACS certified include ethical conduct, training, education, professional qualifications and surgical competence.i For more information, please visit the American College of Surgeons’ website here.
Along with education and certifications, other things to look for when searching for a surgeon is a surgeon’s experience level and their surgical track record. By simply asking your surgeon, you can determine how experienced he or she is. Questions should include how many surgeries have been performed, how many complications and how many secondary surgeries related to the initial one. Another way to determine your surgeon’s level of experience, to verify and get an independent source, and any complications from surgery and even any complaints or sanctions against the surgeon is to check websites from government and independent monitoring agencies.ii
Along with having the knowledge, skill and scientific know-how to be a surgeon, there are other necessary attributes to look for in a surgeon. Your surgeon must be open to change.iii Your surgeon must keep on learning medical and surgical advancements as well as being technically adept. For example, Dr. Thomas R. Russell, who is the executive director of the American College of Surgeons, explains why your surgeon should be open to change, “We have changed in my lifetime from surgery being done in a very invasive way — you had to open people up — and we used to say that great surgeons made big incisions. We have moved in my lifetime from very invasive surgery to what is now becoming minimally invasive.”iii Additionally, Dr. Russell points out that you should look out for a doctor who has good people skills, communicates well and is compassionate towards your individual surgery. Essentially, your surgeon should welcome your questions no matter how difficult they may be – this shows your surgeon understands your concerns and shows empathy towards them.iii
Dr. Christian Birkedal is a Board Certified General Surgeon with over 15 years of providing exceptional service and care to his patients. He specializes in performing minimally-invasive surgeries that allow a patient to recover quickly and with less discomfort. Dr. Birkedal was just recently Awarded Physician of the Quarter which has reasserted Dr. Birkedal’s reputation as a premiere surgeon at one of America’s most highly-regarded medical institutions. Dr. Birkedal is a member of the American Medical Association, the Florida Medical Association, American College of Surgeons and Underwater and Hyperbaric Medicine Society.
Dr. Christian Birkedal’s practice is located at:
Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center
305 Memorial Medical Parkway, Ste 205 Daytona Beach, Florida 32117
The office phone number is 386-231-3530 and they are open
from Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.
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