Oh no! My Doctor is sending me to a Surgeon……


Being referred to a “Specialist” surgeon by a Trauma Doctor, or even your Family Doctor/ GP, can make one very anxious. Is this doctor going to operate on me? How bad is this problem, it must be really bad if my GP can’t handle it, right? Oh my gosh, my friends and family have been to see a surgeon, and they were not happy after they got “cut open……”. These are some of the thoughts that go through our minds when we need to see a specialist doctor.
Generally, the referring doctor requires a second opinion, and help with treatment of certain conditions. The human body is an amazing creation, and not all of it is fully understood. This is why it is so difficult to be an “Expert” in all fields of Medicine. Consequently, after graduating as Doctors, some Practitioners chose to concentrate their knowledge in a smaller field, essentially becoming very skilled in a very small subject, so to speak.
The first step, when preparing for an appointment with an Orthopaedic Surgeon, is to be as relaxed and calm as possible. An appointment is not a death sentence. Your GP/ Doctor is simply sending you to another medical professional who is appropriately skilled in an area/ field where you require more information regarding the possible treatment options, and essentially, advice on how to get back to your previous level of health, function, and mobility, as quickly as possible. This does not always entail surgery. Surgery is suggested only as a last resort, after appropriate alternative therapies have failed.
The assessment always begins with a thorough history of the patient’s problem, so be prepared for questions. Included, is a history of previous medical (eg: diabetes, hypertension, cardiac disease, and allergies) and surgical issues/ treatments, and chronic medications- so it is advisable to either make a list of these medications, or bring them with you. Past medial records like letters, reports, and even old xrays/ images of the problem concerned, are crucial to assist with current problems. Ninety percent of the time, a diagnosis is made just from the patient’s history, and is thereafter confirmed upon physical examination. Be prepared to be examined by your doctor. Please remember to wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing, or perhaps consider bringing a pair of loose shorts with you, to your appointment. Lastly, try to arrive ten to fifteen minutes early if possible. This will allow the patient ample opportunity to relax and acclimatize while in the doctor’s reception area, and afford sufficient time to complete the necessary paperwork, in order to maximise time during the assessment of the patient’s problem. Lastly, please remember that surgeons are often required to attend to emergencies that are brought into hospital, like people with broken bones, and other related injuries or infections, from time to time. Although every attempt is made to attend to scheduled appointments timeously, your surgeon may be delayed in his, or her, attempts to assist you on time. Kindly bear with us, we do our best to notify patients of a delay before hand, or to reschedule the appointment. In the rare event that the message does not reach you in time, please forgive us. We appreciate your patience and understanding in this regard, and we are aware that your time is just as valuable as ours is.