I would like to cover for you the top three questions I advocate you always ask your doctor whenever they recommend a surgical or medical procedure.
I’ll give you some other questions to ask as well but I feel like these three are the most important ones for you to ask. And I’m basing my suggestions off of my 30+ years of practicing personal injury law, as well as the many doctors I’ve interviewed and used as experts in court.
The overwhelming majority of surgical cases we deal with in our practice are because of some kind of traumatic event. But these three questions apply no matter the type of or reason for the surgery or procedure.
Here’s what you should ask:
- What Are the Benefits of the Surgery?
In other words, why should you have it? Why is it beneficial to you to go under local or general anesthesia to have this procedure? Will it provide pain relief? Will it restore a body part to where it can function better? Or is the reason for the surgery to potentially save your life?
A good doctor may recommend a surgical option because they think it can improve a patient’s well-being. And don’t be afraid of getting a second opinion if you feel like you need it.
- What Are the Risks of the Surgery?
You will be given a laundry list of potential things that could happen, up to and including death sometimes. I know, these things can be very scary. But ask what the most common risks and potential side effects are for your potential procedure. Weigh these against the benefits that are expected to occur if the procedure is done.
- What Are the Risks If I Do Not Have the Surgery?
What happens if you just let things remain the way they are? Will your condition worsen? Does it have the chance of getting better on it’s own? And if it does get worse, how bad could it get and what are the chances that surgery can help at that point?
Surgery isn’t always the answer. But you do not want to sit around and let the window of opportunity to repair the problem close forever because you didn’t act in a timely fashion.
Find out all you can from the doctor by asking the top three questions above.
Let Me Share With You a Personal Story
In 2003, I started having excruciating headaches. After a lot of testing, including two MRIs of the brain, a neurosurgeon recommended I undergo brain surgery.
The benefit of the procedure: It could alleviate the pressure in the brain which in turn could help alleviate my headaches and dizziness.
The risks of the procedure? This is brain surgery. I could die, but the greatest risks were excessive bleeding which would require transfusions, infection of the cerebro-spinal fluid, or a stroke.
And what were the risks of me not having the procedure? I could run the risk of losing bladder and bowel function. The headaches would also continue, become more severe and potentially disabling.
So after weighing the risks and the benefits, I chose to have the surgery and I am so thankful I did.
More Questions to Ask Your Surgeon
This is not a comprehensive list of questions because there are so many kinds of surgeries and personal situations. No matter what, if you have a question for your surgeon or doctor, speak up. If you are not sure where to begin, try these:
- What is the success rate?
- How many of these procedures have you performed?
- If I want a second opinion, who would you suggest for this?
- What tests or medical evaluations need to be done before the surgery?
- Will I need to stay in the hospital afterward?
- What will the recovery be like? And for how long?
- Do you have any handouts or materials I can review for the surgery?
- Can you provide me with a detailed explanation of all costs from all providers involved in the surgery?
You need to go in with a high level of confidence in your surgeon. And I don’t just mean in their technical skills. You want to work with a doctor you can trust, as well as a team that is willing to take the time to go over everything with you, including post-surgery healing and care.
I hope this information helps!