Finding the Right Doctor for Liver Transplant
If you require a liver transplant, you’ll want a highly qualified transplant surgeon to perform the procedure. How do you find the best doctor who is right for you? Here are important factors to keep in mind.
Top Things to Look For
Find a transplant surgeon or pediatric surgeon for your child who:
- Is board certified in surgery and who specializes in liver transplant surgery
- Has experience treating patients with your specific condition
- Practices at a hospital known to have high-quality outcomes in transplant surgery
- Accepts your insurance, if applicable
- You are comfortable talking with and who fully answers your questions
Here are five steps to finding the best doctor to perform your liver transplant.
1. Ask Around
Start by creating a list of potential transplant surgeons. Ask your family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. If you’re starting out without any referrals, or you’re looking for more options, search Healthgrades.com for surgeons who perform liver transplants.
Healthgrades.com 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 doctor who is board certified in surgery and performs liver transplants on a regular basis. The more experience a doctor has performing liver transplant surgery, the better prepared the doctor is to anticipate and prevent complications..
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
Liver transplant surgery requires a team of highly skilled and experienced healthcare professionals. For this reason, you should also consider the overall quality of liver transplant surgery and patient care at the hospital where the surgeon practices. The best transplant programs offer a multidisciplinary team under one roof: surgeon, immunologist, laboratory services, transplant pharmacy, nutrition, patient education, financial support, and more.
Find out where the surgeons on your list 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. However, Healthgrades does not currently rate hospitals for liver transplant.
Ideally, you should find a hospital in your area that performs better than expected (5-stars) for a range of procedures. 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.
You can also search for hospitals with liver transplant centers through the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) website. SRTR shows the number of liver transplant recipients and patient survival one year after transplant.
4. Interview the Doctor
As you narrow down your list of surgeons, call each doctor’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 liver transplants have you performed?
- What results do you usually see? Do you have outcomes data to share?
- How frequently do you encounter complications 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 liver transplant, you need to choose a 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.