Questions to ask about surgery

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Every year, more than 15 million people in the U.S. have some kind of surgery. When it's your turn to go under the knife, will you know the important questions to ask your doctor?

Theresa Griffiths lets her new pup pull her around. But when it comes to her health, Theresa is in control. She recently needed a hysterectomy and spent three months researching surgeons. "I wanted to be fully informed and make a wise decision on who I'm entrusting my health to. I came in with a notepad of questions, and I wrote them all down."

Doctor Arnold Advincula says, patients should be asking their surgeons more questions. "Unfortunately, a lot of patients put less effort into figuring out their doctors than they do when they go out and buy a car."

He says you should always ask: what is your success rate for this procedure? And, what is your complication rate? Those numbers should be equal to or less than national averages. "I think if your surgeon has difficulty answering those questions, then you should think twice."

Also ask: How many of these procedures have you performed? Where did you receive your training? And what medical societies do you belong to? "It's important to find out, you know, what are your doctor's qualifications. Are they qualified to be doing the procedure?"

When it comes to the actual surgery, ask: What are the benefits and risks? Why am I having this done? And are there any alternatives?

Theresa's surgery was a success and she says having her questions answered gave her peace of mind. "You have every right in the world to really be extremely informed about such a critical issue in your life."

The doctor says, one of the biggest mistakes patients make is not getting a second opinion before a major operation. He also tells us, when researching different procedures online, it's important that you visit sites affiliated with major medical centers, because there is a lot of conflicting information on the web.