HOW TO CHOOSE A DOCTOR
It’s important for parents to take the time to learn about their child’s diagnosis as well as various treatment options in order to make the best decision for their family.
There are few true emergencies in pediatric plastic surgery, so parents can usually safely take time to feel comfortable with their child’s doctors and care plan. If you feel rushed during your initial appointment and it seems you didn’t have enough time with the surgeon, that may be an indication the surgeon might rush through the planning phase of your child’s care as well as through the surgery. "During new patient evaluations, we spend as much time as needed with families — no family leaves with any questions unanswered," said craniofacial surgeon Dr. Jennifer Rhodes, director of the VCU Center for Craniofacial Care.
You want to find a surgeon that genuinely cares about your child. He or she should be a partner, who helps you get the best care possible for your child. Be wary of any doctor who discourages second opinions. Ask if you can speak with other families who have children with conditions similar to your own child’s condition and that have been treated by that surgeon.
You can also check for internet chat rooms to find other families with children who have the same condition as your child, and learn about their experiences concerning a particular surgeon or medical center.
Here are some examples of questions to consider asking:
How much time does the surgeon devote to craniofacial and pediatric plastic surgery vs. how much time is spent doing other procedures?
Try searching the internet for your doctor’s website to understand if your doctor is focused on the condition your child has, or if he or she spends their time focusing on other areas.
Does the surgeon answer your questions completely and specifically?
How well your questions are answered is a clear indication that the doctor has the necessary experience and skill to treat your child.
Are there different operations for my child's condition?
Good judgment is as important as experience. This question will help you evaluate your doctor’s judgement. Ask your surgeon to explain why he or she prefers the proposed operation to the alternatives. The best surgeons plan the smallest operation that will maximize the benefit to the patient, while minimizing the risk.
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