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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Choosing a Surgeon - Part 2. Finding a Surgeon

[Updated July 23, 2010]

This is the second of a two part series on choosing a surgeon:

Choosing A Surgeon - Part 1. Considerations
Choosing A Surgeon - Part 2. Finding a Surgeon

To find a surgeon:
  • get referrals from friends, friends of friends, etc.

  • get referrals from Support Groups.
Although networking, as discussed in the last two points, is probably the best way to find a good doctor if that fails the following provides sources for a variety lists:
  • The PCRI site lists some doctors by speciality and name.

  • visit the library for America’s Top Doctors and America’s Top Cancer Doctors which is published by Castle Connolly. (Most libraries have online catalogues so you can make sure its there before you make the trip.) Also the sponsored listings in their database (about 20% of the database) can be searched at their web site for free. For a fee you can search their entire database.

  • Another possibility is to locate a cancer hospital and then find a doctor in it. US News & World Report ranks US hospitals each year. In fact, in this July 29, 2007 NY Times article the president of the American Cancer Society recommends getting multiple opinions and going to a hospital where a higher volume of patients with your disease are treated. See here for US News and World Report's latest version or google for top cancer hospitals. Health Grades also grades hospitals. Other lists of US cancer hospitals are provided by the Association of Community Cancer Centers Locator and the Joint Commission (a certification body) JCO search page. The Institute of Hospital Information produces a Hospital Directory that you may be able to find at your library. Consumer reports reports hospital infection rates. One caveat regarding lists like these are that they are susceptible to reporting random fluctuations confusing them with real effects. For example, this link provides a calculator that initially assumes that 100 surgeons in each of 100 hospitals each have a 5% mortality rate among their patients and that a hospital is deemed unacceptable if its surgery rate is 60% higher than the average. Each time you click on Recalculate below the graphic there it does a new simulation showing how many hospitals will be rated unacceptable even though all hospitals are exactly the same. Paradoxically if the death rate assumption is increased to 12% then the number of hospitals deemed unacceptable decreases (!) because there is lesser variation around larger numbers.

  • find the names of many of the urologists in your area from the American Urological Association (which also has many Canadian members) by using the AUA search engine. It lists all urologist members in a given city and can give limited information (address, phone number) for a specific urologist. The American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) also has a search engine on their PLWC site. The American Medical Association DoctorFinder provides slightly more info although its still quite limited. The American Board of Medical Specialties also has some online information. Outside the US, performing a google search for the two words doctor search followed by the name of your location sometimes produces a web page of interest. For example, doctor search ontario and doctor search british columbia both bring up relevant pages.

  • Expertmapper lists doctors based on searching research databases to locates ones that have done research in the medical area you are interested in. Obviously this has significant limitations, e.g. most clinicians don't publish research so they would be missed and you probably can't quantify the aspects of greatest interest such as surgical skills this way but nevertheless its an interesting free resource.

  • Some insurance companies rate doctors. Perhaps its possible to get such ratings from certain insurance companies although this doctor wonders about motivations in setting these ratings.
  • Intuitive Surgical, the maker of the robotic surgery devices used in robotic surgery, has a list of surgeons trained in their device.

Other Parts of this Series

Choosing a Surgeon - Part 1. Considerations
Choosing a Surgeon - Part 2. Finding a Surgeon

Other Surgery Posts

RP vs. LRP vs. RLRP - Part 1. Open Surgery (RP)
RP vs. LRP vs. RLRP - Part 2. Laparascopic Surgery (LRP)
RP vs. LRP vs. RLRP - Part 3. Robotic Surgery (RLRP)
RP vs. LRP vs. RLRP - Part 4. What Surgeons and Others Say

Lymph Node Dissection

Inguinal Hernia and Prostatectomy

Seminal Vesicle Ablation

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