Loved One Having Surgery? Smart Questions to Ask the Doctor

Posted By Regan Zambri Long, PLLC || 28-Aug-2017

Surgery always involves some risk, but unfortunately, medical errors sometimes amplify the risks even further. If you or a loved one is facing an upcoming surgical procedure, you should keep two things in mind: First—we are always the best people to look out for our loved ones’ best interests; and second—knowledge is power. The more you know about the surgery and what should happen, the more vigilant you can be. In addition, the healthcare professionals involved with the surgery are more likely to remain focused when the family stays engaged with the process.

Before your loved one goes under the knife, review this list of smart questions to ask the surgeon. Don’t be demanding or accusatory with your questions. Be polite but insistent. If any of the answers troubles you, ask for clarity until you are comfortable with the answer. If you still have concerns, consider changing physicians or hospitals.

  • What exactly is the procedure, and what does it entail?
  • How long does the procedure usually take?
  • What are the potential complications, and how can these be prevented?
  • How long have you been practicing medicine?
  • How many times have you performed this procedure?
  • How significant is the risk for this surgery?
  • What specific drugs will be administered prior to and during the surgery?
    • More specifically, find out about the anesthesia that will be used and its inherent risks.
  • How much experience do your assistants and nurses have?
    • Remember, your surgeon isn’t the only person involved with the procedure.
    • Ask this question to gauge the surgeon’s confidence in his or her own team.
  • How often will we receive status updates during the surgery?
  • Will the surgery take place either near the end of a shift or during a shift change?
    • Many medical errors occur when doctors and nurses are fatigued at the end of a long shift.
    • Other times they occur during a shift change when the outgoing staff fails to communicate with the incoming staff.

Your choice of hospital can also play a role in keeping your loved one safe. See our recent post for details.

If you feel your loved one has suffered due to medical or surgical error, our Washington D.C. medical malpractice attorneys can help. Give us a call to learn more.

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