Has the Doctor Ever Been Sued for Malpractice?
Even the best surgeon may have had a malpractice suit brought against him or her, so be careful about passing judgment based on what might have been a frivolous lawsuit. The typical vision correction surgeon is sued roughly once for every 3,000 surgeries performed. Statistics indicate that about 80 percent of these suits are either frivolous or without merit. If the doctor has been sued more frequently than this, or has multiple simultaneous lawsuits, you should ask for an explanation. If you are embarrassed to ask about malpractice suits against the doctor, there are alternative ways to obtain this information.
Once organization, the Association of State Medical Board Executive Directors, is a group of participating state licensing authorities that provides malpractice and disciplinary action information about specific doctors. The association’s information is free and available at is website, www.docboard.org. However, not every state in the nation participates.
The Federation of State Medical Boards is another organization that collects and disseminates information about doctors’ malpractice histories. It takes five to seven days to get an answer to a request. Contact the organization at its website, www.fsmb.org.
Has the Doctor Been Sanctioned by the State Medical Board?
All doctors must be licensed by the state medical board in any state in which they practice. Medical boards will discipline doctors for significant misbehavior, including gross or repeated acts of negligence. Contact your state medical board for information on the doctor you are considering. Many state medical boards now publish disciplinary actions against surgeons online.
How Many Patients Does the Surgeon Turn Away?
Avoid the “shopping mall” approach to surgery, where patients are shuffled through the surgical suite without first having met with the surgeon. Most doctors have knowledgeable and compassionate staff to help perform tests and answer questions. However, it is also important to meet the surgeon and receive his of her personal evaluation before you decide to have the surgery.
Some patients choose to see their regular eye doctor for their preoperative and postoperative care. If you plan to do this, be sure your surgeon is comfortable working with your primary eye doctor. While the majority of people have an uncomplicated postoperative course, you want to make sure your care provider will be able to recognize complications if they arise and can either treat you or refer you for treatment before more serious, long-term repercussions occur.
What Type of Laser Does the Surgeon Use?
Make sure your doctor uses a newest-generation excimer laser that is capable of performing wavefront-guided treatment. Laser technology has improved dramatically over past years. State-of-the-art lasers now have eye tracking, which further improves the safety of the procedure. If your eye moves accidentally during the treatment, the laser automatically tracks, or follows, it. Make sure your surgeon uses and eye-tracking laser. State-of-the-art laser enable surgeons to treat larger areas, minimizing the risk of nighttime glare.
The FDA website, www.fda.gov, also has links to laser manufacturers’ websites, where some maintain lists of doctors certified to use their machines. If your doctor is not listed, you may wish to contact the laser manufacturer directly. Verify that the doctor has been certified by the laser company to operate a particular machine, which means he or she took a required training course.
How Much Does LASIK Cost?
Cost should not be the main factor in choosing a LASIK surgeon. First and foremost, seek out a surgeon who has a good reputation in the medical community and plenty of experience. If you are swayed by low cost, this may signal trouble for you down the road. Find the best-qualified surgeon with high medical standards for patient care, compassionate staff to tend to your needs, comprehensive postoperative care, enhancement procedures if necessary, and availability if any problems or complications crop up after surgery.
The cost of LASIK varies from surgeon to surgeon. Generally, high-quality, wavefront-guided LASIK runs between $2,200 and $3,000 per eye. Be sure to ask whether the quoted per-eye cost includes preoperative and postoperative care, as well as enhancement procedure. Many practices can help you arrange low-interest or no-interest financing, which makes high-quality surgery affordable for almost everyone.
Making the Decision
Sometimes, no matter how much information you have gathered, the decision to choose one surgeon over another comes down to intuition. Personal chemistry is important. Choose someone with whom you feel comfortable- someone who is easy to talk to, friendly, and professional. Naturally, you also want a surgeon that listens to your questions, answers them completely, and asks you questions as well. A good doctor patient relationship is important in devising a treatment plan that best suits your needs. Likewise, the surgeon’s support staff should be highly trained, competent, and caring. These are the people who will help support you through the LASIK procedure. Once you feel comfortable with your decision- after you’ve carefully researched the surgeons in your area- you’re probably ready to schedule your initial consultation.