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Quality Orthopedic Care

When choosing a surgeon for an orthopaedic procedure it is a good idea to remember that for many operations both the follow-up and long term care are vitally important. Total hip and knee replacements require long term maintenance and patients may expect to have a check-up every year or every other year for life. As marvelous as these devices may be, and as much as recent technology may have improved them, nonetheless there can be problems and unforeseen issues that require attention or at least communication with the physician. It is best to choose a physician who takes the time to explain not only the procedure, but its risks and benefits. Few arthritis related procedures are emergencies. If the physician seems anxious to arrange for surgery, it is appropriate to ask what the risks are of waiting, or the advantages of proceeding. Ask what the call back policy is. Does the doctor return calls himself or pass things on to a nurse or secretary? If the operation in question is commonly performed, asking how many procedures the physician performs may be useful. After the risks and benefits have been explained it may be worthwhile to ask how often certain complications occur both generally and in the physician's own practice.

Most important: The physician should inspire confidence. No matter the reputation of the hospital, the number of other people the doctor has taken care of or the person referring a patient to the doctor, if the physician's nature does not bring about a feeling of trust, it is better to look for another doctor. As in all human relationships, when things are going well it is easy. Finding someone to count on when the chips are down can be a challenge but is one of the more fulfilling aspects of life.

I look forward to meeting you.

Steven A. Stuchin MD