Finding the Right Doctor for Rotator Cuff Surgery

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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If you plan to have rotator cuff surgery, you’ll want a highly qualified orthopedic surgeon to perform the procedure. How do you find the best orthopedic surgeon who is right for you? Here are important factors to keep in mind. 

Top Things to Look for in an Orthopedic Surgeon

Find an orthopedic surgeon who:

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

Here are five steps to finding the best orthopedic surgeon to perform your rotator cuff surgery.

1. Ask Around

Start by creating a list of potential orthopedic surgeons. Ask your family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. If you’re starting out without any referrals, or you’re looking for more options, search  Healthgrades.com for orthopedic surgeons who perform rotator cuff surgery. 

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 shoulder specialist who is board certified in orthopedic surgery and performs rotator cuff surgery on a regular basis. The more experience a doctor has treating your condition or performing rotator cuff surgery, the better your results are likely to be. 

Also, confirm that the surgeon 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

Orthopedic procedures often require a team of highly skilled and experienced healthcare professionals. For this reason, you should also consider the overall quality of orthopedic care at the hospital where the shoulder surgeon practices. 

Find out where the orthopedic surgeons on your list can treat patients; then research those hospitals on Healthgrades.com. Healthgrades evaluates hospitals on mortality and complication rates of patients while in the hospital for a range of common procedures, including orthopedic procedures. 

Ideally you should find a hospital in your area that performs better than expected (5-stars) for orthopedic surgery, then find a doctor who can admit and treat patients at this hospital. Avoid hospitals with lower than expected (1-star) results.

If a particular hospital falls short in quality, determine if the surgeon also operates at other facilities. 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 rotator cuff surgeons, 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 me?
  • How many rotator cuff surgeries have you performed?
  • What results do you usually see? Do you have outcomes data to share?
  • Which complications do you most frequently encounter 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 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: 2020 Jul 29
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