Visiting a doctor as soon as you can after being injured in an accident is a crucial step towards getting better and maximizing the amount of money you can recover from your personal injury case. Depending on the severity of your injuries, the doctor may tell you that surgery is required. The type of surgery needed is generally attributed to the type of accident one is involved in. For example, a dog bite injury may require a plastic surgeon, and back surgery may be needed after a car accident. No matter the kind, if you are advised to undergo surgical intervention for the injuries, it can be rather frightening.
It is standard procedure for doctors to explain the risks associated with the type of surgery required, ranging from minor infection to death. Even if the chances are unlikely, it is natural to experience a great deal of anxiety associated with undergoing a surgery you hadn't planned for. You may be in a tremendous amount of pain, have a long recuperative period ahead of you, incur significant medical bills, or be out of work and lose wages. Therefore, it is important that you completely understand the surgical procedure you are considering being performed on you.
Before all else, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the type of surgery that your doctor has recommended, to the point where you feel like an expert. This will involve plenty of research, understanding the risks and complications, discovering the alternatives, and being prepared to have an intelligent conversation with your surgeon about all of your questions and concerns.
The 3 Questions
Once you are comfortable with what the procedure entails, there are three questions to ask your doctor before undergoing surgery.
1. What are the benefits of undergoing this surgical procedure, and how long will those benefits last?
You will want to have a complete understanding of why you would choose to undergo this particular surgical procedure. The answer should explain:
- Whether this is a relatively new procedure or if it has been performed for a significant number of years.
- The success rate for patients who have undergone this particular surgical procedure in the past.
- How long, on average, the benefits obtained through this surgical procedure last.
2. What are the alternatives to undergoing the recommended surgical procedure?
If you choose not to undergo this particular surgical procedure, you will want to know what alternatives or other options- if any- you have available to you. The answer should give you a good idea of why a patient would choose this recommended surgical procedure over all other alternatives. You can also use the response to determine whether or not it would be a good idea to try one or more of the alternatives before undergoing this recommended surgery, and if not, why? Finally, you will want to have a complete understanding of why the recommended surgical procedure is the best- and in some cases- the only option available to you.
3. How long will it take me to recover fully?
The doctor should explain to you, in detail, the general recovery process after undergoing this particular type of surgical procedure. The doctor's answer should cover:
- The various stages of recovery, including limitations and restrictions you will experience, and how long each will last.
- How the limitations and restrictions affect the average person.
- The types of care and treatment you can receive to assist you in getting better, and if your doctor arranges for these.
- If you can expect a complete recovery, and if not, what restrictions the average patient will experience.
You can use the information the doctor has shared with you to help you become a better-educated patient and make an intelligent decision about how you would like to proceed.
Even if you are confident with the doctor's abilities, getting a second opinion is advisable. This is especially true if you are considering undergoing a significant surgical procedure. When you go for a second opinion, make sure that this doctor has all of your medical records in advance of your appointment. That way, they will have a complete picture of your injuries and best advise you regarding your condition.
If the second surgeon has a different opinion, ask why it is different and what this doctor thinks you should be doing instead of undergoing the first recommended surgical procedure. You will then have to have a follow-up conversation with your original surgeon to decide how you are going to proceed regarding your particular medical situation.
You will also want to find out through both the doctor's offices and your insurance company about costs you will be responsible for due to this surgical procedure. It is important that you determine your deductible, co-pay, and any other payments for which you will be personally accountable. That way, you can adequately plan on the particular type of financial burden that this surgery will place upon you and your family.
These are significant decisions, and becoming informed on how to help improve your medical situation will make them easier to navigate. To obtain more information about getting better medical care and how to get better quicker, speak with a Connecticut personal injury attorney at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh.