How to Pick a Neurosurgeon: Everything You Need to Know
Neurosurgeons specialize in the nervous systems, including the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. They treat dozens of conditions, ranging from brain and spine injuries to chronic pain to epilepsy and seizures. Because the field comprises so many common afflictions, many patients will need a neurosurgeon at some point in their lives.
But because neurology is such a delicate specialty, you should never pick a neurosurgeon at random. Here are some essential points to consider when looking at options for surgeons.
Get a Referral
The most common way to find a neurosurgeon is to get a referral. Usually, this will happen after a primary care physician narrows down the potential causes of a patient’s ailment. They’ll then send that patient to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment.
If you get a referral, take the opportunity to ask your primary care doctor questions. Find out more about this specialist’s experience in neurosurgery. Ask for alternative referrals in case this one doesn’t work out.
Above all else, make sure your specialist is a board-certified neurosurgeon.
While all doctors need to complete medical school and maintain a license to practice medicine, becoming board-certified is an optional credential that some specialists can pursue. Doing so requires extra education, training, and routine evaluations to keep their certification.
A board-certified neurosurgeon is the highest level of neurological professional. Always opt for a specialist with those credentials.
Research Your Options
Even if two surgeons seem similarly qualified, it’s worth your time to compare them.
As mentioned, being board-certified should always be a requirement. You should also check for any history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions.
That’s not to say a claim should necessarily disqualify a candidate. Neurosurgeons have the highest rate of malpractice claims because of the inherent risk of the profession. And not all claims are equally valid.
However, a pattern of claims brought against the same doctor should be a red flag.
All other things being equal, getting multiple consultations will help in comparing surgery costs. One specialist may propose a less invasive and less expensive course of treatment, for example.
Pick a Neurosurgeon Who Meets Your Needs
The most important factor in choosing any healthcare provider is ensuring they can render the treatment that you need. Before seeking treatment, you should become as familiar with your condition as possible.
For example, one of the common conditions neurologists and neurosurgeons treat is chronic pain. This condition has varied causes that may require different treatment approaches. For persistent discomfort and pain, you should learn about interventional pain management and seek a specialist who will explore that option.
It can sometimes fall to patients to be their own advocates. Coming prepared with as much knowledge as possible can help you find a neurosurgeon who will best meet your needs.
Finding the Right Surgeon
Neurology is one of the most demanding disciplines in medicine. Even a small error on your doctor’s part can be life-changing. So if you need to pick a neurosurgeon, you must go above and beyond to find the best professional possible.
Look for a specialist who meets your needs, comes well-recommended, and who has strong communication skills. Above all else, find a surgeon who is a good fit for you and whom you can trust.
Need more tips for choosing a healthcare provider? Be sure to check out our other posts.