Recently there was an article in the NY Times which reported that most women with ovarian cancer receive inadequate care and miss out on treatments that could prolong their lives. This is because most women are treated by doctors and hospitals that see too few cases of this cancer and lack the expertise to do complex cancer surgery. A woman with ovarian cancer should be operated on by a gynecological oncology surgeon, not a general surgeon.
In the old days the general practitioner delivered babies and provided for almost all the medical needs of the family. In this age of specialization, internet, and high speed travel there is no reason patients should not look for the best specialist to treat serious or life threatening disease. Unfortunately, people put more effort in selecting a consumer appliance than a doctor.
How do you select the right doctor? Referral from your family physician is a good starting point. The internet is very helpful. The New York State Department of Health website should be consulted to find out the doctor’s malpractice history and whether there have been any suspensions or revocations of the doctor’s license. We are suing a surgeon who negligently cut our client’s common bile duct during gall bladder surgery. When we looked up the surgeon on the internet we found that his license was suspended in other states, and he had multiple disciplinary charges against him. The Google Scholar site has medical articles published in well respected journals. See who has published on the issue for which you are seeking care. These are typically the foremost experts in the field.
There are also subspecialists. For example, an orthopedic surgeon treats injuries to the bones. However, some orthopedic surgeons specialize in hips, or shoulders, or hands, or knees, or backs. You should seek out the specialist who has done many surgeries on the body part on which you need treatment. Question the doctor as to his or her experience and find out how many surgeries the doctor has done, and the outcomes. Do not be afraid to ask questions.
All surgery has risk. Surgeons like to operate, and sometimes minimizes the risk of surgery. Clients tell us that the doctor never informed them that a particular complication could happen. There are many cases reported where doctors do unnecessary surgery. Some for profit hospitals exert pressure on doctors to do expensive procedures and tests, some of which have risk to the patient. Patients need to get second opinions, and need to educate themselves on the condition they confront, and the proposed treatment.
There is no shortage of good medical care in this country. The patient needs to be an educated consumer.
Weisfuse & Weisfuse LLP represents victims who have been seriously injured by medical malpractice. Call for a free consultation, 212 983 3000; or email us at [email protected]; Visit us at our website: /.