“Who is the best hand surgeon in my area ?” is a question I am often asked by patients around the UK and further afield.
This is an almost impossible question to answer but hopefully, the following article will give some advice and helpful guidance how to choose the best hand surgeon for your problem.
Your hand surgeon should certainly be on the specialist register in either orthopaedic or plastic surgery.
Recently additional qualifications have been made available including diplomas and masters in hand surgery. These clearly show an increased knowledge acquisition by those surgeons obtaining such qualifications. However, there are a number of highly experienced surgeons, who have been practising hand surgery long before these additional qualifications were introduced and would be able to offer an excellent service.
This is one of the best indicators as to who the best hand surgeon for your problem may be. Generally speaking the best hand surgeons do a good job week in week out and word gets around as to their level of competence. The supporting staff in many private hospitals will also have a good idea of who the best hand surgeon would be and who they would like to be treated by themselves. Speak to friends, colleagues to find the names of the surgeons performing your type of procedure and how it all worked out including after care.
Surgeons are increasingly asked to collect data on their outcomes. Whilst this can be annoying for patients filling yet another form it will help your hand surgeon get an idea of how bad the problem was before intervention and then track the outcome after the operation. Data collection should be regarded as a desirable quality in your hand surgeon looking to delivery the best possible outcome they can by monitoring their practice.
A hand surgeon that has a number of peer-reviewed publications shows an increase in interest in hand and wrist problems and may even publish their results. This should be seen as a very positive attribute as to the level of competence of your surgeon.
Hand surgery training in the UK is now amongst the best in the world. A very clear structured training program exists and many of the U.K.'s best hand surgeons have been fellowship trained either in the UK or abroad. Ideally your hand surgeon should demonstrate a hand surgery fellowship focusing exclusively on the hand and wrist. Better still your hand surgeon may be a trainer of such a fellowship and as such their training ability will also be monitored.
Many hand conditions have support groups that have data bases of surgeons who they may recommend. Drop them an email and see if they can suggest a few names for you to research.
A website does not give any indication about competency, but will give an idea of how serious your surgeon takes his profession. Contact information should be displayed as it may be required in the event of an enquiry or a post operative issue. Testimonials may also suggest the level of service particularly if your hand surgeon treats professional sports teams and VIP’s on a regular basis. Information on common hand and wrist procedures may be displayed giving an indication as to what may be the problem and how it could be resolved.
Range of practice
The best hand and wrist surgeons know their limits and would not take on cases outside their expertise nor current level of practice. Mike, for example would not perform microsurgery and would refer you to a suitably qualified and experienced colleague. It is therefore probably unwise to have your hand surgery performed by someone who operates on all areas of the body including perhaps hip, knee spine and shoulder. If you have a choice perhaps consider a specialist in hand surgery.