If you’ve reached a point where you and your doctor agree surgery is the best option for you, you’ll likely receive a recommendation for where to have your procedure performed. When this suggestion comes from a primary care physician, some patients assume they have to automatically accept it. However, this isn’t the case. You have the right to explore your options and choose the spinal surgery facility that’s right for your needs and personal care preferences. Here are four of the main qualities to look for as you make your decision.
You’ll be having one specific type of spine surgery—or maybe two at the most (if, for example, you’re having a disc removed and fusion surgery to stabilize your spine). However, you may benefit more from working with a surgical team that routinely performs different types of spine surgery because such professionals tend to have greater firsthand knowledge of the inner workings of all parts of the entire spine. For instance, if the scheduled procedure is an extreme lateral interbody fusion, Santa Monica patients should look for a team with experience in other types of fusion procedures as well as in non-fusion alternatives.
Expense is an understandable concern when having spine-related surgery, so you’ll want to consider insurance coverage and acceptance. However, just because a spinal surgery facility covers certain types of surgery doesn’t always mean your specific procedure will be covered. For instance, your insurance might cover traditional fusion or decompression surgery but not newer robot-assisted or microsurgery procedures. Minimize the risk of experiencing insurance surprises by:
• Double-checking with your insurance provider to confirm your specific type of procedure is covered and being sure to mention the way it will be performed • Asking about financing options to help with expenses not covered by your insurance • Determining whether or not some of your post-surgery requirements will also be covered (e.g., medication you may need, physical therapy)
Ideally, your interactions with a spine surgeon should involve open and honest two-way communication. You should be free to ask any questions you might have and get all of the information you’ll need before you have surgery. In fact, it’s a good sign if you find a surgeon who encourages you to ask questions. Be wary of any surgical professional who:
• Seems offended if you ask questions • Neglects to take the time to explain your procedure in non-technical terms • Gets defensive if you inquire about his or her experience • Refuses to set up a separate appointment for the sole purpose of answering questions and clarifying your understanding of the procedure
Finally, consider reviews and patient feedback. However, go beyond a surgical facility’s website, which is likely to feature only positive comments. Instead, check on third-party doctor review sites or social media pages to get a more honest overview of what patients really think.
After you’ve selected a facility, go a step further and check your gut instincts before going forward with surgery. In other words, how comfortable are you with the spinal surgery facility based on your initial interactions with the surgeons and staff? If you have any lingering doubts, it may be best to check out other facilities in the area. Remember, the more confident and comfortable you are going into spine surgery, the more likely it is you’ll benefit from the results.
The quality of the staff and equipment at a spinal surgery facility are of paramount importance. If you’re satisfied with a facility after checking for all the qualities listed above, you’re likely to have a better overall experience, from before your procedure to the end of your recovery period. Patients who would like the advice of a trusted Santa Monica spine surgeon should contact the spinal health experts at The Spine Institute. Our specialists know what a top-notch facility should include and the level of care patients should expect. Call us today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.