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11. Go to your preoperative appointment with a family member

11. Go to your preoperative appointment with a family member
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“That reminds your doctor you’re not a gallbladder or a bypass or a valve—you’re a person who’s part of a family.” —Marc Gillinov, MD.

12. Find out who your anaesthetist will be

12. Find out who your anaesthetist will be
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“That’s just as important. Ask ‘Who’s going to be putting me to sleep?’ or ask me who I think the best anesthesiologist is. In some hospitals, you can request that person.” – General surgeon who blogs under the name Skeptical Scalpel

13. Use three different doctors, get three different answers

13. Use three different doctors, get three different answers
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“Years ago, a patient sent his slides to three different pathologists and got three different answers.”

“I got very upset on hearing that. Now I never rely on just one pathology exam. If your doctor finds something, ask him to send your slides to a nationally recognised reference lab – not just one or two slides but the whole lot – and get a second interpretation.” —Bert Vorstman, MD, a prostate cancer specialist in Coral Springs, Florida.

14. Risks on legal consent forms don't worry us

14. Risks on legal consent forms don't worry us
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“Or, there may be one complication we’re really concerned about. If you truly want to understand the dangers, ask your surgeon, ‘What is the risk that gives you the most pause?’” – Kevin B. Jones, MD, author of What Doctors Cannot Tell You: Clarity, Confidence and Uncertainty in Medicine

15. Surgeons are control freaks

15. Surgeons are control freaks
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“When things don’t go our way in the operating room, we can have outbursts. Some of us curse, some throw instruments, others have tantrums.” – Paul Ruggieri, MD, author of Confessions of a Surgeon: The Good, the Bad, and the Complicated … Life Behind the O.R. Doors

16. Mistakes are probably more common than you would think

16. Mistakes are probably more common than you would think
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“But most of them don’t actually hurt people. I work with residents, and I don’t let them do anything that I can’t fix if they screw it up. If there’s an error that I fix that I’m sure won’t affect the patient at all, I’m not going to say anything about it. That would accomplish nothing except to stress out the patient.” —An orthopedic surgeon

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17. Some problems just don’t fix well with surgery

17. Some problems just don’t fix well with surgery
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“My advice? Grin and bear it. Some surgeons vehemently disagree. They say, ‘Oh, you have a degenerative disk, and that must be the culprit. Let’s fix it.’ But many people have a degenerative disk with no pain. There isn’t a lot of evidence that we’re helping very many people.” – Kevin B. Jones, MD

18. Always ask about nonsurgical options

18. Always ask about nonsurgical options
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“Surgeons are busy, and they like to operate. A professor from my residency would say, ‘There is nothing more dangerous than a surgeon with an open operating room and a mortgage to pay.’” – Kevin B. Jones, MD

19. Talk to your doctor about donating your blood

19. Talk to your doctor about donating your blood
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“Banked blood is a foreign substance, like an organ, and your body can potentially react adversely. If you can use your own blood or blood from your family, there’s less chance of those reactions.” – Kathy Magliato, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

20. Residents have to learn how to operate

20. Residents have to learn how to operate
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“When residents are learning how to operate, it’s required that an attending physician be ‘present’.”

“But ‘present’ doesn’t mean he has to be in the operating room scrubbed in.

“At an academic institution, ask whether your surgeon will be actively participating in the surgery or just checking in every hour.” —Ezriel “Ed” Kornel, MD

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