Exploring Human Potential

Surgeons Embrace Health Consumers

Posted on | January 14, 2008 | No Comments

Dr. Tom Russell’s new book

Over the years, I’ve always been proud to be a surgeon, as was my father, and as are two of my brothers. Having watched my father in his office attached to the house from the time I was a little boy, I knew that it was possible to be a surgeon, and to also have rich multi-generational caring relationships with patients and their families that extended over decades. I also learned to distrust the various stereotypes that exist for different types of doctors because they just don’t hold up.

Case in point: Dr. Tom Russell, executive director of the American College of Surgeons. Over the years, I’ve had many background briefings with leaders in Medicine – looking forward at Health Consumerism, the Internet, Aging, Technology, Scientific Progress,Globalization, the Dual Burden of Disease, Liability – and more. Of them all, Tom and the College Trustees were always among the most engaged and curious. Clearly they were not threatened by change, but have embraced it, and even more, seem determined to lead it.

No surprise then that Tom’s recent book, featured recently in the Wall Street Journal, is being positively reviewed. In it he says, "Patients should feel free to ask their surgeons anything they want answered about the operation or the surgeon’s competency to perform it. There are no questions that should be off the table."

The book, "I Need An Operation…Now What?: A Patient’s Guide to a Safe and Successful Outcome," even gives you the questions to help size up your surgeon pre- and post-op for example:

Do you perform this operation regularly?

What are your results?

Are you Board certified in the surgical specialty in which you practice?

Do you have any health problems that would interfere with your ability to do the operation?

What is your success rate with this operation and your safety record with regard to complications?

Will I be involved in marking the surgical site?

Did anything unexpected happen during the operation?

Is there any change in the post-operative plans?

Did anything happen during surgery that could complicate recovery?

Are there any instructions for me in case of bleeding or other problems after surgery?

When should I next see the surgeon?

The College also offers free information online to consumers at

One more thing — all proceeds from sales of the book go to the College’s Safety and Education Research Fund.

Nice job!


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