By Dr. Scott Russinoff, MD
As a fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon I treat patients who have bone and joint problems and I specialize in fixing hip and knee problems. To be considered a specialist in one’s field, a doctor or surgeon, can not just say they specialize in something; he or she must complete a fellowship program after residency. The duration of a fellowship varies within each field of medicine but most last from one to several years. This additional time spent studying and performing that specialty results in a more proficient doctor or surgeon.
There are many surgeries I am trained to perform, but I prefer to stick with what I specialize in, mostly hip and knee replacements and arthroscopy. This allows me to excel at what I do, which leads to better outcomes and happier patients. As a Joint Replacement Specialist, I perform complex surgeries that other surgeons are not comfortable with. These include revisions of hip and knee replacements that have worn out over time or patients who have had complications postoperatively.
Many patients who have had surgery elsewhere and are unhappy with their outcome turn to me for help. Some of these patients have had complications or just were not educated about their condition or surgery preoperatively. Other patients come to me for a second opinion after being told they need a hip or knee replacement.
There are many specialists available locally in all fields of medicine. Most patients do not need to travel far to find the right doctor for them. At Hudson Valley Hospital Center in northern Westchester, we have developed the Joint Replacement Center which has the lowest infection rate in the area and an expedited rehabilitation program. The center features all private rooms with dedicated orthopedic certified nurses.
So how do you know your doctor is the right doctor for you? First, you need to feel comfortable with your doctor. Second, your doctor needs to educate you about your procedure or condition. They need to tell you the benefits and risks of any procedure or surgery. Third, you need to find out if your physician is trained adequately to perform the procedure. You are allowed to ask the doctor about their training and how many of the procedures they have done. Fourth you can obtain references. References can come from physicians, other patients or online.
Looking your doctor up online, you can usually learn about their training through specialty societies such as the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (www.aaos.org). Many doctors also have their own websites to educate their patients and provide their background information. Feel free to visit me at www.srbonedoc.com.