Questions You Should Ask Your Potential Surgeon

All of the surgeons and experts we interviewed say you need to ask your potential surgeon the right questions to make sure you get the right doctor for your procedure. Here are some suggestions from the doctors we interviewed:

Dr. Marty Makary – Surgeon and Professor of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University

  • How often do you do this procedure?
  • What other options are there other than surgery?
  • Is there any alternative that could either serve as an intermediate step to surgery or a way to maximize on the operation after surgery?
  • Is there a minimally invasive alternative?
  • Is this operation familiar to the hospital?

Dr. Makary also says, “If you’re going to start a new medication for the rest of your life or undergo major surgery, a second opinion is almost always warranted. I encourage my patients to get a second opinion because about 20 percent of the time the second opinion will be different from the first opinion. While there is no single source of great medical guidance, it is important to do your research because it is a big life change.

Dr. James MacDonald – Knee & Hip Replacement Surgeon at Anne Arundel Medical Center

  • "Start with your primary care doctor, they will know” who to go to. “I’ve had one or two savvy patients speak to physical therapists” because they “will be taking care of the post-op patient and will be able to make a comment on outcomes.”
  • Doctors doing elective surgery ought to be “putting people through preoperative steps” to make sure “patients are fairly fit” because that is the “standard of care we’re executing.”
  • Does your hospital compare notes on complications and have regular meetings about patient care?
  • Does your doctor specialize in a type of surgery? Is it the surgery you need?
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