Getting Second Opinions Before Surgery. Part 1

Posted by Lloyd on September 12, 2012

One of the most challenging medical decisions that a person can make is whether or not to have surgery. It’s a decision that often takes place under a cloud of anxiety, sometimes with time pressure, and maybe with the belief that if surgery is the recommended option, you have no choice but to do it.

To set the record straight, Dr. Eric A. Rose, a heart surgeon and chairman of the department of surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, wrote “Second Opinion: The Columbia Presbyterian Guide to Surgery,” (St. Martin’s Press, 2000, $27.95) Rose tracks how to proceed from the first inklings that an operation is an option, through the decision-making process, and finally what to expect in the course of the surgical experience itself, if you choose to have it.

As a patient, “your role should be a very active one,” said Rose. “You’re basically a customer making a decision. Not in the sense that you’re shopping around for the best price or looking for a bargain, but that in the sense that you have many choices. And before you make that decision, you want to be informed.”

(During the preparation of Rose’s book, Kabak worked with Rose on its content. She recently interviewed him to revisit the issues that lead to being in charge of your own health in the face of surgery.)

The following are answers to questions that could be posed by a person who is considering surgery.

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