Shoulder Pain and Injury Illustration - © Agility Orthopedics

Top Ten Tips for Choosing the Right Orthopedic Surgeon

When it comes to your health, there is no greater fear than selecting the right provider for the care of you or a family member. Unfortunately, when you find yourself in need of an orthopedic surgeon, you often feel pressed for time to pick the right person. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy process as long as you are asking the right questions.

Here are ten things to consider while researching orthopedic surgeons:

  1. Referrals: Getting a personal recommendation from a trusted source like your primary care physician, family member or trusted friend is highly valuable.
  2. Credentials, education, training, and degrees: Information about a surgeon’s credentials should be readily available from their website. Some things to consider are researching the difference between a medical doctor (M.D.) and a doctor of osteopathy (D.O.). If your issue involves the foot or ankle, research the difference between a foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon and a podiatrist.
  3. Specialty areas and areas of expertise: Some orthopedic surgeons have completed a residency in general orthopedic while others have further specialized in a particular area. Fellowship-trained surgeons complete an additional year of training in a sub-specialty such as foot and ankle or shoulder. These surgeons are able to care for all general orthopedic issues as well as very specific issues within their particular fellowship area.
  4. Insurance coverage: When it comes to paying for medical care, it is essential to understand costs and benefits. If you rely on medical insurance to cover your health costs, as most people do, this is a key area to research before setting up an appointment. Make sure to check the website of your desired orthopedic surgeon or call the support staff to inquire about coverage.
  5. Patient satisfaction reviews: Patient satisfaction reviews can be very helpful when selecting an orthopedic surgeon. Just as with personal referrals, these ratings and surveys can provide insight into the level of care you could be receiving. Read these reviews with caution, however. Consider the motives of the reviewers and always consider trusted sources over anonymous reviews.
  6. New technologies, approaches, devices: Does this surgeon use the most cutting edge, advanced forms of treatment? Education and training are the foundation for a successful surgeon but without continued training, even the most talented surgeon could be lacking in advanced approaches. Consult each surgeon’s website to investigate their utilization of the latest approaches and technology in the operating room.
  7. Experience with your particular injury/symptoms: How many cases has this doctor treated? What is the success rate for various treatments to your specific issue? Don’t hesitate calling and talking to the support staff or the surgeon about their experience with your individual needs.
  8. Office staff, location and atmosphere: Finding friendly, knowledgeable staff that responds quickly and addresses your needs and concerns is paramount. You should feel welcomed and valued from your first interaction to your last. Research the location, accessibility and convenience of the office and surgery center. Finding an orthopedic surgeon near you is preferable, however, don’t value distance from home over other considerations such as experience and personal referral.
  9. What are my expectations/desired outcomes? When selecting the right orthopedic surgeon, first consider what you are seeking to gain or resolve. Make sure to communicate your specific expectations when consulting with each surgeon. This will help promote a realistic assessment of your outcome and increase confidence in your selection.
  10. Where do surgeries take place? Some orthopedic surgeons operate solely at hospitals while others primarily take cases to outpatient surgery centers. Check with each surgeon about where your case would take place. Several factors including cost, duration of stay, convenience, etc. come into play when weighing one option over the other.
14 replies
  1. Gregory Willard
    Gregory Willard says:

    Thank you for all of the great ways to find a surgeon. I think it’s a great idea to find them based on insurance coverage. It would be bad to find the surgeon and not be able to pay for it.

    Reply
  2. Olivia Nelson
    Olivia Nelson says:

    I agree that you would want to consider an orthopedic surgeon’s area of expertise before you choose them. I would imagine that it would be important to find someone who is specialized in your specific problem. My husband needs knee surgery so we’ll have to find someone who specializes in this to do the operation.

    Reply
  3. Cindy Tesler
    Cindy Tesler says:

    Thanks for pointing out that information about an orthopedic surgeon’s credentials should be easily found on their website. You also mention choosing a surgeon that has specialized in your area of need, so that they have even more focused training. I think it’s important to choose an orthopedic surgeon that also works at an accredited hospital to ensure that they have access to the best materials and equipment to do a great job on your surgery.

    Reply
  4. Luke Smith
    Luke Smith says:

    Your question about whether someone uses cutting edge and advanced forms of treatment sounds like a good one to ask when looking for an Orthopedic surgeon. Even if the cost is a little higher, I imagine that using high quality technology would make the odds of a seamless surgery much higher as well. A surgeon definitely seems like something where the cheapest option is not necessarily the best one.

    Reply
  5. Dennis Sanchez
    Dennis Sanchez says:

    You wrote that one of the benefits of working with an orthopedic sports medicine professional is that they have experience with your specific injury/symptoms and know exactly how the issue should be treated. My niece plays a variety of sports and while we hope she stays safe, knowing that we have a professional to go to in case she hurts herself is important to us. I’ll be sure to find a good orthopedic, as they definitely could help my niece healthy and playing sports again.

    Reply
  6. Burt Silver
    Burt Silver says:

    I have been thinking about seeking out an orthopedic surgeon for a few months now for my wife and I. It is important to me to find somebody who can give us the best treatment possible. That’s why I like that you mentioned finding somebody who is up to date with new approaches and advanced technologies.

    Reply
  7. Maggie Allen
    Maggie Allen says:

    It’s good to know that you can see patient satisfaction reviews on different orthopedic surgeons to help you choose one. That seems like a great way to get a bunch of verified opinions right away. Now I just need to start looking for some websites that offer verified reviews to help me make a decision. After all, when it comes to your health, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry!

    Reply
  8. Trayson Evans
    Trayson Evans says:

    One of the technologies that i learned about recently is ultrasound. It isn’t really new, it’s been used to assist with pregnancy for years. I just recently learned that it can be used to look at the ligaments in your foot. This can accelerate the diagnosis, which would accelerate the healing. That is why I agree that new technologies are a great addition to a doctor’s training and education.

    Reply
  9. Luke Smith
    Luke Smith says:

    I appreciate your comment about checking to ensure that an orthopedic doctor has the right credentials readily available on their website before choosing to use them. I feel like since this area of medicine is focused on the delicate balance of healing injuries without limiting functionality it would be really important to only use doctors who were specially trained in that area. Checking online reviews and the doctor’s standing with the a professional medical association would seem to be good ideas as well.

    Reply
  10. Kyle Winters
    Kyle Winters says:

    I do like that you talk about the importance of experience in tip number seven. After all, there are several orthopedic problems that might require surgery. You want to make sure that the surgeon you choose has practice with your particular ailment.

    Reply
  11. Finley
    Finley says:

    I like how you mentioned that it’s still important to consider location when choosing an orthopedic surgeon. I think it would be such a hassle to visit an office that is located a ways away from where you live, especially if you require frequent visits with the surgeon. I definitely agree that you need to harmonize location while still ensuring you’re working with a quality surgeon.

    Reply
  12. Afton Jackson
    Afton Jackson says:

    I never knew how important it is to choose a knee surgeon that has access to new technology to ensure they have continued training and advanced approaches. My sister just tore her ACL playing volleyball. This info should help her find a center that can get her back on the court soon.

    Reply
  13. britt wall
    britt wall says:

    My brother may need to find a surgeon to do a procedure on his spine to reduce the impact of his ankylosing spondylitis, and it will be important for him to know that he will be in good hands. I think that a great way to help him know that will be to follow the tip that you gave to check their reviews. I will be sure to call him about this, so he could find the right surgeon.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *