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Do you need to find a reputable, skilled spine surgeon in NJ? If you or a loved one requires the expertise of a neurosurgeon, you are probably wondering where and how to start your search. Knowing what to look for and what questions to ask will make the task much easier.

Finding the Right Surgeon

Considering your spine surgeon will be operating on one of the most vital structures in your body, finding the right doctor is essential. There are a number of steps you can take to make your search more successful and less stressful.

Locating Spine Surgeons Near You

Finding a spine surgeon in NJ may seem like a major undertaking. With dozens of listings in New Jersey alone, a good place to start is your insurance company.

Health insurance companies produce directories of doctors within your insurance network. These directories are typically broken down by specialty, making it easy for you to find spine surgeons that accept your insurance (always be sure to check with their billing departments, as insurance companies add and drop doctors with some regularity).

Don’t completely write a doctor or practice off just because they’re out-of-network. Many times, insurance companies will make exceptions and pay claims if an out-of-network doctor is considered the best in their field or you require a highly specialized procedure no one else within a reasonable distance performs. Consult with your insurance specialist to find out how they make such determinations.

Your primary care provider may also be able to recommend surgeons they have worked with in the past or know of through other patients. In some cases, you may be directly referred to a neurosurgeon by your physician. Don’t feel obligated to use a surgeon your doctor recommends. It’s important that you have choices in order to find the best fit for you.

Another good place to look is on sites such as Health Grades. Here you can learn not only about the doctors and their areas of specialization but also any malpractice or other marks against them. This can help you narrow down your list.

Making Appointments

Once you have a list of prospects, begin setting up short consultations. In many cases, these appointments are free and allow you to meet with and discuss your particular case with the surgeon. It also gives you the opportunity to ask questions and make sure you feel comfortable with them.

Important Questions to Ask Your Neurosurgeon

A consultation with a neurosurgeon is no different than conducting a job interview. You are literally putting your life in your chosen surgeon’s hands, so you need to ensure that he or she is qualified for the job and takes that job seriously.

Although you might not be able to remember everything you want or should ask a prospective spine surgeon, having a list of questions when you sit down with them can help immensely. Don’t be shy to take a notebook with you and make notes of important points from your discussion.

Some of the questions you might include in your interview include:

  • How many of the particular procedure you require have they performed?
  • What is their success rate?
  • How long do they estimate your recovery would be?
  • Are they board-certified in neurosurgery?
  • Will they continue with your follow-up care after surgery?

During your interview, take note of how the surgeon answers your questions. Is he or she genuinely engaged in addressing your concerns? Do you feel like they’re listening to you? Are you receiving answers that give you the information you need?

Choosing an NJ Spine Surgeon

After you’ve talked to few surgeons and have narrowed down your list, it’s time to weigh the pros and cons and make your decision. The number one question you have to ask yourself is, “Do I trust this doctor implicitly?” If you have any qualms, move on to the next. Having trust in your health care providers is crucial. You need to know that you can rely on them to make the best recommendations and decisions for and with you in and out of the operating room.

Other factors you need to take into consideration include the following.

Experience. Does the surgeon you’re considering have adequate experience performing the surgery you require? Can they provide you with concrete numbers of how many they’ve performed?

References. Can they provide you with the names of past patients that are willing to discuss their experiences?

Availability. Will he or she be available to perform your needed surgery within a reasonable timeframe?

Follow-ups. Will he or she be available for follow-ups, or will those be carried out by a physician’s assistant or colleague? If it’s the latter, do you feel comfortable with that?

Bedside manner. Does the surgeon your considering have a good bedside manner? They should never be condescending or dismiss your concerns. Patience and compassion are two traits that any good surgeon should possess.

When looking for the right spine surgeon in NJ, your peace of mind and comfort are vitally important. Look for a doctor with experience who is caring and attentive and able to answer all of your questions.