Finding the Right Doctor for Ear Tube Surgery

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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If your child needs ear tube surgery—ear tube placement—you’ll want a highly qualified otolaryngologist to perform the procedure. Otolaryngologists treat ear, nose and throat problems, so people also call them “ENTs.” Some ENTs—pediatric otolaryngologists—specialize in treating children. How do you find the best ENT who is right for your child? Here are important factors to keep in mind. 

Top Things to Look For

Find an ENT who:

  • Is board certified and who specializes in ear tube surgery
  • Has experience treating patients with your child’s specific condition
  • Practices at a hospital known to have high-quality outcomes 
  • Accepts your insurance
  • You are comfortable talking with and who fully answers your questions

Here are five steps to finding the best ENT to perform your child’s ear tube surgery.

1. Ask Around

Start by creating a list of potential ENTs. Ask your family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. If you’re starting without any referrals, or you’re looking for more options, search for otolaryngologists and pediatric otolaryngologists on Healthgrades.com . You can filter your search results by selecting providers who perform the procedure ear tube placement.

Healthgrades.com shows patient satisfaction ratings, which give you insight into how your own experience might be with the doctor. Patients rate the doctor and the doctor’s medical practice, and say if they would recommend the doctor to family and friends.

2. Research Credentials and Experience

Take time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience. Look for a doctor who is board certified in otolaryngology or pediatric otolaryngology and performs ear tube surgery on a regular basis. The more experience a doctor has performing ear tube surgery, the better prepared he or she is to anticipate and prevent complications. 

Also, confirm the doctor is in good standing with state and federal agencies and that he or she has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. You’ll find all this information on Healthgrades.com.

3. Examine Hospital Performance

ENT procedures often require a team of highly skilled and experienced healthcare providers. For this reason, you should also consider the overall quality of surgical care at the hospital or outpatient surgery center where the ENT practices. 

Find out where the ENTs on your list can treat patients. Then research those facilities on Healthgrades.com. Healthgrades evaluates hospitals on mortality and complication rates of patients while in the hospital for a range of common procedures. 

If a particular hospital falls short in quality, determine if the ENT also operates at a different facility. Otherwise, find a surgeon who treats patients at a hospital likely to offer you the best possible outcome.

4. Interview the Surgeon

As you narrow down your list of ENTs, call each surgeon’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the doctor. 

  • Ask yourself if you are comfortable talking with the doctor. 
  • Does he or she respect your opinions and answer your questions in a way you understand? 

Here are some questions to ask the doctor:

  • Do you typically treat patients like my child?
  • How many ear tube surgeries have you performed?
  • What results do you usually see? Do you have outcomes data to share?
  • How frequently do you encounter complications from the surgery? 
  • What do you do to avoid complications or correct them if they occur?

5. Determine Your Insurance Benefit 

Your insurance coverage is a practical matter. To receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket for your child’s surgery, you need to choose a surgeon that participates in your plan.

But keep in mind, just because a doctor participates in your insurance plan doesn’t mean he or she is a high-quality doctor. You still need to consider the doctor’s experience and expertise.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Nov 8
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Ear Tubes. American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/Ear-Tubes.cfm 
  2. Middle Ear Infections and Ear Tube Surgery. KidsHealth. http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/ears/ear_infections.html