Chapter 8: Choosing Your Eye Surgeon
A Patient & Parent Guide to Strabismus Surgery
George R. Beauchamp, M.D.
To the extent possible, you should feel comfortable about the surgeon you have selected. There are some ways in which your choices may be limited, and over which you have little to no control. Your health plan may restrict whom you may see with your current coverage. You may be isolated geographically, which limits your practical choices. Or you may have limited other resources that place limits on seeking additional opinions or options. Only you can determine the correct course of action for yourself and your child. The following may help you in this effort.
Qualities of a Good Strabismus (Eye Muscle) Surgeon
There is general agreement in medicine that a good surgeon is more than steady hands, as important as that is. Good surgeons also have: intelligent minds, honed with continuing study and inquiry; good hearts, taking the best interests of their patients as their habit of practice; courage and coolness under fire, to do what needs to be done particularly in difficult or unexpected circumstances; and experience, which leads to good judgment and the ability to avoid complications whenever possible. Good surgeons tend to operate expeditiously, not because they hurry, but because they do what needs to be done and nothing else (meaning no unnecessary or ―complicating‖ moves). Strabismus surgery is technically demanding, and preoperative testing and surgical plan creation is challenging. Nonetheless, in the hands of skilled and experienced surgeons, it can (and for most cases should) be routine.
Choose an Experienced Strabismus (Eye Muscle) Surgeon
If you need advice about a surgeon to entrust you or your child’s care, the most informed sources include the people with whom they work professionally. These include referring physicians, operating room nurses,anesthesiologists and other strabismus surgeons. The latter will likely be somewhat cautious in their appraisals, not for lack of knowledge but for concerns about the propriety of commenting. Health plans, despite their ―credentialing‖ process, are not likely to have included physicians on their plans based primarily on their clinical skills. Patients who have had care or surgery provided can be a valuable source of information about how they were treated and give important information about what they have learned from their experiences, broadly speaking. General information about a surgeon’s credentials can be gleaned from reference sources, and can be of some benefit. The Internet has a wealth of information, yet it may be difficult to interpret it in light of the specific context of an individual’s care. An experienced strabismus surgeon in whom you have confidence is your best source of perspective as to what should be done and when.
Remember: if in doubt, it is reasonable to seek a second opinion.
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