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Questions to Ask Before Undergoing Surgery

SurgeryEach year, millions of patients throughout the country undergo some form of surgery. Some procedures are relatively minor, while others are much more serious with the potential to change the patient’s life forever. While most surgical procedures are successful, the reality is that all surgeries carry some risk. If you are considering any type of elective surgery, there are a number of questions you should ask in advance so that you can be fully prepared for whatever lies ahead.

Is the Procedure Necessary?

It may seem obvious to ask about the necessity of a procedure, especially if it has been suggested or recommended by your doctor. However, there may be alternatives available. Your doctor should be willing to discuss your case with you in depth, including any options that could delay or mitigate the “need” for surgery.

What Will Happen During the Surgery?

You deserve a full account of what the surgeon will do to your body during the procedure. It is not enough for your doctor to simply reassure you that the surgery will address your problem. If you are not sure what the surgeon will be doing, you cannot accurately assess the applicable risks of complications.

Should I get a Second Opinion?

Some health insurance plans require a second surgical opinion before they will agree to cover a procedure. Insurance aside, however, asking about a second opinion is a good way to gauge your doctor’s certainty on the issue. A true medical professional should welcome another trained opinion because your health should be the top priority. If your doctor balks at the idea of a second opinion or tries to tell you what another doctor’s opinion will be, it could be a sign that you are being pushed into surgery too quickly.

What Will my Recovery Entail?

Depending on the extent of the surgery, your recovery could last just a few days or for several months. You deserve to know how long you will be in the hospital and whether you will have limitations once you are discharged. Your doctor should also inform you of any supplies or equipment that you may need to facilitate your recovery. Uncertainty and intentionally vague answers can cause increased stress levels, which could slow the healing and recovery processes.

What About Anesthesia?

There are several different types of anesthesia that could be used during your procedure, including local, regional, or general anesthesia. Your doctor should let you know what type is recommended, as well as the associated risks. Find out who will be administering the anesthesia during your surgery, and request a meeting with him or her prior to your procedure.

How Long Will the Benefits of the Surgery Last?

Some operations offer benefits that will last the rest of your life, while others have relatively short-term benefits. Your doctor should be able to give you detailed information about the benefits of your surgery and whether you are likely to need a follow-up procedure in the future.

What if a Mistake is Made?

Surgeons are human beings, and mistakes will happen from time to time. While any surgical mistake is unfortunate, relatively few provide the basis for a surgical malpractice claim. A mistake is only considered to be malpractice if the actions in question fail to meet the prevailing quality of care standard. This means that if the mistake would have reasonably been made by another surgeon of similar age, ability, and training, the error is not considered to be malpractice. If, however, a surgeon of similar age, ability, and training would not have made the same mistake, you may be entitled to collect compensation.

To learn more about surgical errors and malpractice claims, contact an experienced San Jose surgical malpractice attorney. Call (408) 289-1417 to schedule a free consultation at Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. today.

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My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.