How to Tell a Good Hand Surgeon from a Bad One

Your hand hurts. The pain prevents you from working, taking care of your family, and doing the things you love. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, carpal tunnel syndrome is associated with the second longest time away from work at an average of 28 days (not with us). Other conditions of the hand, wrist, and arm can take you out of the action for even longer.

You need the best medical care possible but it can be difficult to determine which doctor is best. The phone book does not offer many clues about the quality of care, and you can only learn so much about a doctor from the internet.

Choosing a bad surgeon can lead to unnecessary operations, complications, and poor outcomes. Fortunately, there are a few surefire ways to tell a good hand surgeon from a bad one.

Choosing a doctor

Ask your family doctor which hand surgeon she prefers then ask her nurses if they agree with her recommendation – healthcare professionals have the inside scoop on other physicians in the area. Consult with friends and family members to learn whom they might recommend. Choose a hand doctor with a stellar reputation in your community.

Surround yourself with highly trained hand specialists. Opt for a hand doctor who works in a facility dedicated to hand care where everyone – from surgeon to secretary – understands the complexities of the hand. These professionals know your hand problem might make it difficult for you to sign your name or use a computer and design their practice around your needs.

Communication is vital during diagnosis and treatment. If English is not your primary language, choose a bilingual practice so your doctor can comprehend your symptoms and you can understand his recommendations.

During the appointment:

Check the surgeon’s credentials. Hand surgeons should be board certified through the Boards of Surgery or Boards of Orthopedic Surgery. Board certification means your surgeon demonstrates special expertise in hand surgery.

Look for a doctor who is a member or candidate member American Board of Medical Specialty, which requires surgeons to complete one year of additional training and pass a rigorous exam. Choose a board certified surgeon who treats hands and arms exclusively.

Board certified hand surgeons are experts in diagnosing and treating many conditions, including:
· Basilar Joint Arthritis
· Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
· Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
· DeQuervain’s Tendonitis
· Dupuytren’s Contracture
· Ganglion Cysts
· Lateral Epicondylitis
· Small Joint Arthritis
· Trigger Finger
· Wrist Pain

A superior surgeon does not always operate – a bad one reserves a surgical suite before he even examines your hand. The best surgeons know that not all hand problems require surgery; some conditions respond to physical therapy or rest. Early diagnosis and treatment from a qualified hand surgeon may help you avoid surgery altogether.
The best surgeons choose minimally invasive procedures whenever possible.

These procedures reduce pain and decrease the risk for complications such as infection. Minimally invasive procedures usually heal quickly, so you can get back to your regular life right away.

Choosing a good hand surgeon is not as difficult as it appears. Educate yourself about your condition, learn the name of specialists in your area, and ask friends and associates about their experiences. Hiring the right doctor ensures a good outcome for you and your hands.