Does Experience Count in Selecting a Surgeon?

October 19, 2016 1:58 pm Published by

The doctor you want may be the one who specializes in just one kind of procedure, new research suggests.

The September 19, 2016 Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article, A New Factor When Choosing a Surgeon, is both very timely and thought provoking.  The focus of the article is on a new study which evaluated the longstanding view that “the busiest doctors get the best results.” Specifically, the research study “Surgeon specialized and operative mortality in United States: retrospective analysis,” published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on July 16, 2016, demonstrates “patients of active surgeons are less likely to die or suffer complications from an operation.”1

How fascinating and important for everyone! While the WSJ article and the study focus on mortality, there is a much larger issue that relates to the experience of a physician.  It’s called morbidity.  Simply stated, it is the likelihood of side effects or complications that can occur from a procedure or treatment.

In the area of prostate cancer, morbidity covers a large number of issues.  Let’s say someone has radical robotic surgery to remove a cancerous prostate.  The outcomes that can be directly attributed to the skill of a surgeon include:

  • Infection rate
  • Post-operative pain
  • Amount of blood loss
  • Length of hospitalization.

But, what is important to most patients is also directly related to a urologist’s experience. It is the incidence of permanent urine leakage (incontinence) and erectile dysfunction (impotence).  More experience translates to a reduced incidence of all morbidities in study after study.

So, don’t be hesitant in asking your doctor how many patients he or she has treated with a specific procedure or surgery.  An experienced physician never minds sharing that information.  Also, be sure to ask if you can speak with any of their patients who have undergone the procedure you are considering.

At Western States HIFU, I am proud that, more than 17 years ago, I began treating patients with HIFU and that our Center is acknowledged to be the most experienced in the Western United States. At Western States HIFU our total focus is on treating prostate cancer. We are committed to providing the best care and optimal results for the patients who come to us from across the United States and throughout the world.

Does experience count?  You bet… Ask our patients!

1The study analyzed more than 695,000 operations performed by 25,000 surgeons in the U.S. between 2008 and 2013. Researchers looked at patients who had one of eight complex cancer and heart surgeries. Entering the study, mortality rates for the eight procedures ranged from 1% to 7%. BMJ 2016; 354

Read the WSJ article.

This post was written by Western States HIFU