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Bad Surgeon, Good Surgeon

As with any profession, surgery has its share of both wonderful surgeons, and not so wonderful ones. I thought I’d share an example of each that I found in my blog reading:

A Bad Surgeon

An on-call oral surgeon comes in to see a patient with Ludwig’s Angina – a serious dental infection that spreads under the jaw and can cause loss of the airway, and upon seeing that the patient is “self pay”, says we should transfer him since he is “penniless” and could never afford to follow up with him in the office! When told by the ER doc that he cannot transfer a patient for that reason, he then turfs the case to ENT – who is understandably disgusted as well, but agrees to see the patient. By the time this happens 6 hours later, his infection has worsened and he has to go the ICU, get intubated and trached due to loss of his airway. FINALLY at this point the oral surgeon takes him to the OR – he is still trached and in the ICU three weeks later – this might have been avoided if he were operated on sooner.

A Good Surgeon

We were on vacation and noticed a suspicious red swelling on my son’s leg. We made an appointment at a local pediatric care center, and the physician assistant determined it was an abscess that needed to be drained by a surgeon. The PA was very calm and reassuring, and quickly made an appointment for us with a local surgeon. We drove over to the surgeon’s office, and everyone there, from the receptionist to the nurse to the surgeon himself, was friendly and supportive. My son was extremely nervous about the prospect of having both shots and surgery, and the staff, especially the surgeon, did a great job calming him down. After it was all over, my son even commented that the surgeon was so nice, almost like a grandfather, and that he liked how he explained everything to him before he did it.

I myself have received care from both good surgeons and not-so-good ones. All I can say is that a physician’s character really does make a difference in the kind of care you’re likely to receive. When seeking a good surgeon, ask a physician whom you trust to make a recommendation. Birds of a feather flock together in healthcare and in life.

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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One Response to “Bad Surgeon, Good Surgeon”

  1. Ian Furst says:

    embarrassing –

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