The relationship you have with your New Jersey spine surgeon may be one of the most important you’ll have in your life. The ability to trust your surgeon and have open communication with your doctor is essential to ensure the best outcome for your spinal surgery.
Find the Right Fit For You
Luckily, when you’re in need of a spine surgeon, the ball is in your court. Don’t feel as though you have to go with the first surgeon you meet. It’s fine (and actually encouraged!) that you get a second, third or even fourth opinion.
It’s essential that you find a surgeon that you feel comfortable asking questions and, in turn, can receive knowledgeable answers from. If at any point something doesn’t feel right, it may not be a good fit.
Whether you require a discectomy or a spinal fusion, the initial steps to finding the right spine surgeon should be similar.
Ask your health insurance provider to supply you with a list of all of the New Jersey spine surgeons you are eligible to work with. They can also provide ratings as supplied to them. This is a good starting point. Once you have this information in-hand, you can use a variety of resources to obtain more information.
The internet can be a wellspring of great information when it comes to learning more about your prospective surgeons. Before making any appointments, check out your shortlist on sites such as Health Grades or Vitals. If you see a common theme amongst the reviews (good or bad), it’s likely that information is reliable. For instance, if several people mention a doctor that did a great job on their cervical disc replacement surgeries and that’s what you’re looking to have done, this doctor would be a good bet.
If a review seems particularly biased or makes personal attacks, discount it. It’s likely written by someone that is disgruntled and angry. Trust the reviews that give you the facts — professionalism and bedside manner, ability to explain procedures, availability, etc.
Another great way to learn more about surgeons is through recommendations from others that have had the same procedure you are considering. They can provide first-hand insight into the New Jersey spine surgeons they’ve interviewed and who ultimately performed their surgery.
Some areas even have chronic pain support groups with individuals that can give invaluable information on their experiences with various spine health practitioners, including surgeons.
Even with several great recommendations, you may not mesh with a surgeon. This is why it’s important to have a personal consultation with them. This is your chance to interview the doctor that will be performing your life-changing surgery.
Just as you wouldn’t hire someone that wasn’t a good fit for your company, neither should you work with a surgeon that you don’t feel is the right person for the job.
What to Ask When Vetting NJ Spine Surgeons
Being armed with the right questions to ask your prospective surgeons will get you much further along. Don’t hesitate to write them down and take notes!
Here are some questions you should definitely have answered before committing to working with any surgeon.
- How long have they been in practice?
- Are they board-certified in neurosurgery?
- How many of your needed procedures have they performed?
- What is their complication rate?
- How about their success rate?
- What technique(s) do they typically use for your particular surgery?
- Do they accept your insurance? (you may be referred to the billing department for further details)
- What is their estimated recovery time for you?
- Do they recommend any pre-surgical bloodwork or other tests?
- What is the frequency of post-operative follow-up?
- How do you reach them after your surgery if you have questions or complications?
Your prospective surgeon should be able to calmly and easily answer any of the above-mentioned questions. Some red flags to watch for include the following.
- Defensiveness. You are literally entrusting a surgeon with your life. If they seem cocky or unconcerned for your well-being, consider taking them off the list right away.
- Vagueness. If a surgeon does not seem to want or to be able to answer your questions concisely, it would be a good idea to look elsewhere. A doctor should be able to speak confidently about any procedure he or she is an expert in.
- Lack of compassion. It’s normal for you to be scared or apprehensive before a surgery. It’s a daunting proposition, at best. A doctor that is impatient or lacks the ability to sympathize with your concerns is one you may want to avoid working with.
What Traits to Look For In NJ Spine Surgeons
Despite having deep roots based in science, medicine should be about emotional support, as well. Finding a surgeon that possesses both the expertise to carry out your surgery, as well as providing you with the emotional support and reassurance you may seem like it might be impossible. Luckily, this isn’t the case.
Look for a surgeon that possesses these traits.
- Seasoned in their field of expertise. Seek out surgeons that have performed your particular surgery numerous times. Through doing this, you can help ensure that they have “seen it all.”
- Willing to go the extra mile. A doctor that will provide you with extra information or, say, go to bat for you with your insurance company is worth their weight in gold.
- Has your best interest at heart. Find a surgeon that seems to be interested in a positive, healthy outcome for you. He or she should be happy to do their part to make sure you get the best results possible from your surgery.
- Listens to your questions and concerns. A doctor that is a good listener will hear you out. They’ll answer you with solid, useful information. If they don’t know the answers, they’ll find them for you.
- Works with a reputable medical group or has a good reputation in the medical community.
When searching for the right New Jersey spine surgeon, your comfort level is the most important thing. By knowing what to ask and trusting your instincts, you can find a doctor that will give you confidence and peace of mind from the first consultation until your last follow-up appointment.