Having a doctor advise you that valve surgery is needed to treat your heart condition can be a frightening event. However, correcting a malfunctioning heart valve is necessary measure that most likely will save your life. Although most heart surgeries are performed successfully there is still an element of risk involved. One of the ways you can reduce the chances of anything going wrong is to choose the right surgeon. A knowledgeable and experienced heart surgeon can make the necessary repairs while decreasing the chances of complications occurring during the surgery. Here are a few tips for picking the right doctor.
Your primary care physician will most likely refer you to who they think is the best surgeon for the valve surgery. However, do not feel as though you are constrained by their recommendation. You are free to shop around. Keep in mind, though, that if you will be using insurance that you should confirm the insurance company will pay the doctor you extremely choose. Most insurance companies work with a network of doctors and it is a good idea to call your provider to get a list of heart surgeons who are covered by your policy.
Prior to scheduling your valve surgery, meet with the heart surgeon for a consultation. Take this time to ask the doctor questions about their experience in the type of surgery you are having. You want someone who is knowledgeable and has had plenty of experience in this area. Ask them how long they have been performing surgeries like yours, how many procedures that perform every year, and if there is any new technology they may be using to ensure your surgery is successful. There should also be a discussion about your recovery and any follow-up visits that may be necessary.
Other things to consider about your heart surgeon is whether they are board certified, where they received their education from, and if they have had any malpractice lawsuits filed against them. Lastly, determine what kind of hospital they are working in. If it is a learning hospital then a resident may be assisting with the surgery or performing it under the supervision of the primary surgeon. Clarify all the details incorporating your valve surgery. This is also a good time to gauge the doctor's “bedside manner”. You should feel comfortable with the doctor. They will be performing a life saving surgery on you. Therefore, you should feel confident that you are in good hands.