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5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Surgeon

Once you have decided to undergo surgery, the most important decision you can make is choosing a surgeon. Surgeons differ from each other by their outcomes, qualifications and training, experience, services, and practice set up. It is critical to have a deep understanding of these elements before making a decision, since they will greatly influence the result of your surgery.

Outcomes

The most important quality for being a great surgeon is having consistently good outcomes. You will need to know whether your intended surgeon generally has positive outcomes from the procedures performed? How often do complications such as infection or gastrointestinal leak occur? Does the surgeon keep data on how patients do 2 to 3 years after the procedure? With the new reporting mandates, surgeons have information about their outcomes more readily available than before. With good outcomes, you can be sure you are in good hands.

  • In Dr. Zare’s laparoscopic inguinal hernia series of over 3000 procedures, recurrence rate is less than 1% (national average ranging from 1-10%). To date there have been no incidents of mesh-related infection. Average recovery is 1-2 days.
  • In our bariatric surgery series of over 750 procedures, we have had the rare distinctions of zero mortality, 100% completion with laparoscopic approach (no incident of having to convert during surgery from laparoscopic to open approach), and 0.2% leak rate (national average 1-5%). With Sleeve Gastrectomy, operative time averages 55 minutes, length of stay is 1.5 days, and malabsorption is no longer a long-term complication. We have eliminated surgical site infection and post-operative bleeding since 2013.
  • In our laparoscopic and robotic colon resections, our average hospital length of stay is 3 days. Having championed an evidence-based protocol to reduce surgical site infection at Good Samaritan Hospital, our surgical site infection rate remains below national average.
  • In our large series of over 500 laparoscopic and/or robotic repair of hiatal hernia/fundoplication, we have had no incidents of early reoperation for bleeding, injuries, or slipped wrap. Hospital length of stay is 1-2 days.
  • In recognition of our results, we have received the prestigious seal of approval from the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program, Aexcel® designation by Aetna®, 3-Star Top Quality Center designation by Cigna®, and 5-star top rating by Healthgrades.

Qualifications and Training

When deciding to undergo a minimally invasive procedure, you need to know whether your surgeon received specific training in minimally invasive surgery at an accredited fellowship program following completion of residency training? Is your surgeon current on his/her specialty board certification? Is he/she a fellow of the American College of Surgeons? Does he/she belong to professional specialty organizations such as the Society for American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgery? Has your provider maintained current knowledge by receiving continuing medical education credits? The answer to these questions could mean the difference between a smooth and positive experience, versus one entangled with complications.

  • Dr. Zare received his residency training in General Surgery at the prestigious surgical program at Georgetown University, Washington, DC. There, he was awarded “best resident in laparoscopic surgery” in his fourth year. After residency, he completed additional two years of fellowship training in Advanced Laparoscopic and Gastrointestinal Surgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Dr. Zare is certified by the American Board of Surgery, and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
  • He is a member of the Society for American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgery and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
  • Dr. Zare continually maintains his presence at the leading edge of his field, both by keeping abreast of the latest research and technologic advancement, and by disseminating his knowledge to other surgeons and medical professionals via educational talks and workshops.

Experience

It is crucial to know how long your surgeon has been performing surgery, particularly the kind that you will be undergoing? Studies have shown that the more experienced the surgeon, the less likelihood of postoperative complications.

  • With more than 14 years of experience, Dr. Zare is one of foremost experts in his field with over 5000 advanced laparoscopic procedures successfully completed to date. These include over 3,000 hernia repairs, 750 bariatric procedures, 500 fundoplications or hiatal hernia repairs, and 300 colon resections. His experience in the use of the robotic platform continues to grow with over 160 procedures to date.

Customer Service

Very often the treatment you receive starts well in advance of surgery and continues afterwards. Before surgery, you may need to obtain past medical records, perform new tests, and receive evaluation by medical specialists. Following surgery, you will need follow-up care with your surgeon and may require additional assistance of medical specialties. In order to coordinate all this, your surgeon should have staff members who are compassionate and available to help you as the need arises.

  • As a result of our excellent customer service, every year since 2009, we have won the Patient Choice Award, given to less than 6% of practitioners nationwide. Dr. Zare’s staff includes:
    • Casmay, Medical Assistant. Casmay is your first point of contact in our office. She will ensure you will receive timely consultation, reminders, or appropriate follow up visits. She will assist you in obtaining paperwork or filling forms.
    • Amelia, Medical Assistant and Program Manager. Always eager to help, Amelia will use her several years of experience to facilitate various aspects of your care after your office visit such as obtaining insurance pre-authorization, scheduling surgery, retrieving medical work-up, calculating your financial estimate, filing for disability, etc.
    • Kathryn, Billing Manager and Bariatric Coordinator. With over 2 decades of experience, Kathryn can answer queries regarding billing. She will also guide bariatric patients through complex insurance pre-authorization process, coordinating their care before surgery.
    • Dana Schroeder, the Bariatric Coordinator and Certified Bariatric Nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital. Dana is a great resource for bariatric surgery patients at Good Samaritan Hospital. She has over 3 decades of experience and oversees the hospital bariatric program. She teaching classes, coordinates support groups, and answers questions that may arise after surgery.
    • Karen Thomas RN BSN CBN, Bariatric Program Coordinator at El Camino Hospital and Certified Bariatric Nurse. Karen plays a similar role as Dana. She has over two decades of experience in healthcare and education, and will help with pre-op education and preparation for bariatric patients. She is always present to assist patients at bedside during hospital stay, and at monthly follow-up group meetings.

Systems

The popular idiom “It takes a village” holds true for surgery. To have great overall results, you need high quality comprehensive care right from the pre-surgical phase and extending throughout your post-surgical journey. The need is not just a good surgeon and responsive support staff, but qualified nurses at the hospital, skilled operating room staff, and a hospital equipped with the latest technology and strong programs such as a designated center of excellence. Obtaining a Center of Excellence designation involves a rigorous application process and an on-site inspection, which confirms the highest standards of patient care.

  • We offer you all of the above and a lot more. Right from taking the guess work out of your preoperative needs and helping coordinate your care before surgery, to providing you with state-of-the-art hospitals and surgery centers, no stone will be left unturned in ensuring you receive the highest level of care.