Thursday, October 25, 2012


I recently came across an article in Reader's Digest titled, 50 SECRETS SURGEONS WON'T TELL YOU. It got me thinking of the issues that pertain to my own practice and the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Here is a stab at my own short version, applicable to pregnancy and gynecology care.


1.To know which doctor is good, ask hospital employees- specifically the nurses or scrub techs. They are the ones who work closely with the doctors- they see them in action, with patients at their bedside, during deliveries, procedures, and surgeries. Their word, based off of what they see and their own interactions, trump any prestigious title or affiliation.

2.Ask about their rates- all of them...their complication rate, induction rate, episiotomy rate, and c-section rate. If they don't know, they're either hiding something or playing dumb because they simply don't want to be bothered.

3.Some surgeons won't mention procedures that they don't do or don't like to do. Some Gynecologists cannot do laparoscopic surgery, and some can do laparoscopic surgery but are not trained in the newest method of robotic surgery. If you need a hysterectomy and a surgeon is not trained in da Vinci robotic surgery, do you think he or she will mention it as an option? The answer is probably not. To do so may very well be sending you out the door...and your money with you.

4.A lot of thought may have gone into finding the right surgeon, but very few people even consider who their anesthesia provider will be. My hospital currently does not offer routine consultations with the anesthesia providers. And no patients actually even think to ask about it.

5.Doctors are human beings, not perfect and not all-knowing. I am constantly learning something new, each day, with my interactions and experiences with each unique patient. I do not always know the answers and I am not always right. As is the same with any doctor. A good doctor doesn't necessarily have all of the answers at hand, or pretend to- they listen, learn, and attempt to solve the problem. And listen some more.

6.When seeking OB care, don't be afraid to ask the doctor what their philosophy on birth is. If he or she looks at you like you just spoke in Latin, then take that as a sign. Even an Obstetrician should view birth as the important event that it is and should have some thoughts to share that will leave you with a better idea of what to expect from their care.

7.It's never too late to transfer care. Unless the baby has been born. THEN it's too late. If you have gone through the discussions above about intervention rates and philosophy of birth and it's just not sitting right with you- or if you just in general are not feeling cared for or supported in the way that feels right, listen to your instincts. Transfer care and don't look back. Just as my wife always says- if you don't feel you're being listened to and supported during your pregnancy, then why would it be any different during your birth? She's exactly right. That's why I have been known to accept transfers at 36, 37, and even 38 weeks.                                                          

This is only just the beginning of things that come to mind that your OB/Gyn may not tell you. Have you experienced any situation like any of the above? Are there any others you can think of to add?

Glen Elrod, OB/Gyn