Finding the Perfect Match: Choosing the Right Orthopaedic Surgeon for You

Close up of a white male surgeon in blue gown and green face mask in operating room performing knee replacement surgery. - Dr. Herrick Siegel
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Undergoing orthopaedic surgery can be a stressful yet hopeful experience. Your aching joints or debilitating injury may significantly limit your quality of life. While the thought of surgery evokes nerves, you know it provides the chance to regain mobility and live pain-free. The first step is finding an orthopaedic surgeon who gives you confidence that your procedure will succeed.

With over 20,000 orthopaedic surgeons across the country, the options feel endless. Where do you start? What credentials and qualities make one surgeon better than another? Use this guide to streamline your search and ensure you select the right surgeon for your needs.

Secure Strong Referrals

Your search begins with asking doctors and loved ones whom they recommend. Request referrals from primary care physicians since they make specialist recommendations daily. Seek input from family and friends who underwent similar orthopaedic surgeries. Compile a list of suggested surgeons for further evaluation.

Orthopaedic associations like the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons provide search tools to find member surgeons in your state and city. Specialty societies for hand, foot and ankle, or sports medicine have similar directories. Cross-check referral names against these databases.

Research Credentials Extensively

Now that referrals gave you surgeon names to consider, dig deeper into credentials. Confirm board certification in orthopaedic surgery, which verifies expertise through rigorous testing. Search public databases for any disciplinary sanctions or malpractice claims against surgeons under consideration.

Look into orthopaedic subspecialty training for complex joint replacements, spine surgery, or orthopaedic oncology. Added fellowship training equates to advanced expertise.

Match Practice Focus to Your Needs

Just as credentials count, so does a practice’s focus and surgeon’s experience. An orthopaedic surgeon specializing in ankles knows less about spinal fusion surgery than a spine specialist. Gather data on the number of your specific surgery that potential surgeons perform annually. Opt for higher volumes linked to better outcomes.

For tricky revisions or rare conditions like bone cancer, travel to an academic center where orthopaedic teams concentrate expertise. Patients nationwide seek out leaders like Dr. Siegel for limb salvage procedures when community surgeons lack the sophistication required.

Evaluate Hospital Quality

The right orthopaedic surgeon deserves an equally excellent hospital for your procedure. Major operations carry risks, so scrutinize infection rates, readmissions, and patient satisfaction scores. Top-notch surgeons often operate at highly rated medical centers or dedicated orthopaedic hospitals. If your surgeon mentions an unfamiliar hospital, check its quality data first.

As a University of Alabama professor and chair of orthopaedics at Brookwood Medical Center, Dr. Siegel operates at two outstanding Birmingham institutions known for orthopaedic and general medical services.

Vet Thoroughly Through Consultation

By now your list narrowed significantly through referrals, credentials, practice analysis, and hospital quality checks. Time for in-person consultations to vet finalists thoroughly. Prepare questions about treatment options, complication risk rates, new techniques, rehabilitation, and second opinions. Take notes and assess communication style, explanations, and bedside rapport.

Does the surgeon make you feel comfortable and willing to ask anything? Do you sense partnership in making decisions? Did staff behave professionally and compassionately? Go with the orthopaedist you trust fully since outcomes heavily rely on following surgical instructions. If anyone raises doubts through arrogance, evasiveness or rushed care, move on.

Verify Insurance Coverage and Location

Two final practical factors include insurance coverage and location. Confirm in advance that your health plan contracts with the surgeon under consideration. Contact insurance directly for participating doctor lists and facility coverage details. Receiving out-of-network care lands higher bills in your mailbox unless no other options exist.

While researching top surgeons, consider realistic travel time limitations too. Arranging regional lodging works for initial surgery but proves difficult for essential post-op checks. Find an orthopaedic surgeon offering excellence relatively close to home.

Reach Out to the Experts

As this comprehensive guide outlined, finding a skilled, compassionate orthopaedic surgeon has lasting impact. Entrusting surgical care to subpar doctors risks poor outcomes or lasting impairment. Seek opinions from multiple trusted experts and compare credentials thoughtfully until the perfect match with your expectations emerges.

For Alabamians facing complex orthopaedic conditions from trauma, cancer, or prior failed procedures, choose orthopaedic oncologists like Dr. Herrick Siegel with specialized skills. Having performed over 15,000 reconstructive surgeries in Birmingham, no one better understands the appropriate techniques for each unique case. Reach out to Siegel Orthopaedics for transparent guidance from start to finish. Regaining quality of life motivates Dr. Siegel’s tireless efforts with patients from across the country and around the world. Place your trust in his hands and walk toward healing.