Most people have questions they’d like to ask their doctors about their health, but sometimes find it difficult to approach their doctors with their concerns.
Senior managing health editor of FoxNews.com, Dr. Manny Alvarez, spoke to Dr. Paul Ruggeri, a general surgeon and author of the book Confessions of a Surgeon, to give patients a better sense of the doctor’s perspective and pointers on how to address their concerns.
Dr. Manny: Why did you feel compelled to write this book?
Dr. Ruggeri: I’ve been wanting to write this book for a very long time to truly let people know what I do on a daily basis—how I feel and how I think. I want people to understand that surgeons, doctors are human beings and they are put in extraordinary circumstances sometimes and they have to react. They have to react like a human being and have human frailties.
Dr. Manny: Why are you willing to confess about things like mistake and malpractice while other doctors aren’t?
Dr. Ruggeri: I want patients to have a realistic idea of what their outcome could be in an operating room, and sometimes, the outcomes are not perfect. I am not perfect in the operating room all the time. Most of the time, I am, but there are sometimes I’m not and people have to understand that. I am very honest with patients. When something happens in the operating room that’s unexpected that I didn’t expect, that I created and I repaired, I tell them.
Dr. Manny: What are the biggest misconceptions patients have about surgery and surgeons?
Dr. Ruggeri: I think the public is afraid of surgeons. They are afraid to ask questions, they are afraid to question a surgeon’s diagnosis, ask for a second opinion. In my experience, people are very afraid to ask anything. I think it is a big misconception. I think we are a very approachable. Most of us are very approachable people.
Dr. Manny: What questions should patients be asking before surgery?
Dr. Ruggeri: I want them to ask me: Why do I need surgery for this? Why is this treatable with surgery? Are there alternatives to surgery? Are you going to be there during the surgery? Many think I’m not going to be doing the surgery. They’re seeing me, but they are thinking that somebody else may be doing the surgery.
Dr. Manny: What do you want people to get out of reading this book?
Dr. Ruggeri: I want people to start asking questions to their primary doctor about this surgeon. You know, what do you know about this surgeon? You know, why are you referring me to this particular surgeon? Have you heard good things about him? Have you had good experiences? I want people to really inquire about who their surgeon is because many times they don’t know who they’re getting. In the end, some get hurt because of that.