Your stomach cancer surgeons complication rate is a very important factor both in the outcome of your surgery and your survival. It’s often not something people ask about, but should be!
If you were to purchase an expensive item in a store, you would normally ask the sales rep a lot of questions about it.
However, it’s often assumed that you are with the very best surgeon because he is trained and has qualifications to his name without really considering the important points.
Well, before I would embark on any form of surgery I’d ask a series of questions first before having my operation done.
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Whilst the length of time your surgeon has been operating doesn’t necessarily mean that he is good at your particular operation, it does give you some confidence that he has been doing operations for some time.
The longer they have been operating, the less likely he is to be bad at his trade these days. There are mechanisms in place to check on a doctor through revalidation and surgeons complication rates are one parameter taken in to consideration.
Which would you rather have surgery with – a surgeon that does stomach cancer operations 500 times a year or 50 times a year?
I expect that you would say the one that does 500 operations and most people (including myself) would agree with you on this one.
Whilst the number isn’t necessarily indicative of a good doctor, it does give you some confidence that a lot of people decided to have their surgery with them.
If you take the number of surgeries with the complication rate, you get a much better idea usually.
Complication statistics are really important; after all you want to know if you are going to have an operation that you will recover quickly from without any issues.
It is a good marker of your overall perioperative care, particularly if you take it in the context of the number of surgeries that person performs.
Most people don’t think about this, but it is true that some people will have to go back to theatre after they have had their initial surgery.
Wound breakdown and hemorrhage can occur after your surgery and may require further intervention.
It’s a useful figure to know.
Infection statistics are something that hospitals take very seriously these days.
MRSA and C.dificile infection rates were very high in the UK at one time, but these have been substantially reduced with the introduction of infection control measures.
They are normally reported as hospital statistics, but your surgeon should be able to tell you what these are.
Length of stay or LOS is important for most people to know. No one likes being in hospital and the LOS is an indicator of not only turn over, but recovery too.
To me it’s not a great indicator. You can have a surgeon that keeps you in a long time and you have a good outcome, but equally you can have a short stay and a bad outcome.
Length of stay is more of a figure that is important to managers and politicians than to your outcome.
This is an interesting one. Number of complaints doesn't necessarily equate to a bad doctor but the type of complaint they receive is important.
I certainly wouldn't write off a grumpy personality if the surgeons complication rate was good, but I would write off one that has mediocre outcomes.
Good surgeons publish their figures usually. It is a marker of success if they show you their results. It’s not an absolute, but gives you some idea.
In the UK now, they have to publish their figures for all to see now.
The five year survival rate is extremely important, after all you want to know whether you are going to be alive in 5 years’ time or not!
The higher the 5 years survival rate is in combination with low complication rates and numbers of surgeries is a pretty good indication of a surgeon’s ability.