Finding the Right Doctor for Knee Replacement
If you plan to have a knee replacement, you’ll want a highly qualified orthopedic surgeon to perform the procedure. How do you find the best orthopedic surgeon who is right for you? Here are important factors to keep in mind.
Top Things to Look for in an Orthopedic Surgeon
Find an orthopedic surgeon who:
- Is board certified in orthopedic surgery and who specializes in knee replacements
- Has experience treating patients with your specific condition, such as knee arthritis
- Practices at a hospital with high-quality outcomes in knee replacement or orthopedic surgery in general
- Accepts your insurance
- You are comfortable talking with and who fully answers your questions
Here are five steps to finding the best orthopedic surgeon to perform your knee replacement.
1. Ask Around
Start by creating a list of potential orthopedic surgeons. Ask your family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. If you’re starting without any referrals, or you’re looking for more options, search Healthgrades.com for orthopedic surgeons who perform knee replacement.
Healthgrades shows patient satisfaction ratings, which give you insight into how your own experience might be with the doctor. Patients rate the doctor and the doctor’s medical practice, and say if they would recommend the doctor to family and friends.
2. Research Credentials and Experience
Take time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience. Look for a knee doctor who is board certified in orthopedic surgery and performs knee replacements on a regular basis. You can even narrow your search to orthopedic knee surgery. The more experience a doctor has treating your condition or performing knee replacements, the better your results are likely to be.
Also, confirm that the doctor is in good standing with state and federal agencies and that he or she has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. You’ll find all this information on Healthgrades.com.
3. Examine Hospital Performance
Knee replacement surgery often requires a team of highly skilled and experienced healthcare providers. For this reason, you should also consider the overall quality of knee replacement care at the hospital where your knee surgeon practices.
Find out where the orthopedic knee surgeons on your list can treat patients; then research those hospitals on Healthgrades.com. Healthgrades evaluates hospitals on mortality and complication rates of patients while in the hospital for a range of common procedures, including knee replacements.
Ideally you should find a hospital in your area that performs better than expected (5-stars) for knee replacements. Then, find a doctor who can admit and treat patients at this hospital. Avoid hospitals with lower than expected (1-star) results.
If a particular hospital falls short in quality, determine if the surgeon also operates at a different facility. Otherwise, find a surgeon who treats patients at a hospital likely to offer you the best possible outcome.
4. Interview the Surgeon
As you narrow down your list of knee replacement surgeons, call each surgeon’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the doctor.
- Ask yourself if you are comfortable talking with the doctor.
- Does he or she respect your opinions and answer your questions in a way you understand?
Here are some questions to ask the doctor:
- Do you typically treat patients like me?
- How many knee replacements have you performed?
- What results do you usually see? Do you have outcomes data to share?
- Which complications do you most frequently encounter from the surgery?
- What do you do to avoid complications or correct them if they occur?
5. Determine Your Insurance Benefit
Your insurance coverage is a practical matter. To receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket for your surgery, you need to choose a knee surgeon that participates in your plan.
But keep in mind, just because a doctor participates in your insurance plan doesn’t mean he or she is a high-quality doctor. You still need to consider the doctor’s experience and expertise.