Ask Dr. Parisi: Questions For Your Hand Surgeon

Upper extremity surgeon Dr. Parisi guides you through a conversation you should have with your hand surgeon.

hand surgeon

Hand injuries affect patients of all ages. Some issues are minor; other conditions affect ability to work or take a toll on quality of life. When conservative treatments don’t deliver relief, patients may consider surgery. Summit hand surgeon Dr. Debra Parisi is an advocate for informed decisions about medical treatment, including surgery. Part of making an informed decision about a surgical option is understanding the qualifications of your surgeon. Dr. Parisi has some suggestions to guide you through this conversation with your surgeon.

Questions focused on your hand surgeon’s experience

“I think that feeling comfortable with your hand surgeon is a priority,” says Dr. Parisi. “Trust matters. I suggest asking questions that provide an evidence-based objective measurement of a hand surgeon’s skill. It’s important to ask questions that give you enough information to move forward confidently.” The following questions can help you understand your options and learn more about your surgeon.

How common is your condition?

“This question leads to a conversation that helps you understand your surgeon’s experience with the procedure you need,” explains Dr. Parisi. “When a procedure is common, ask how many patients in the state of Minnesota or in the entire country are treated with it every year. You’ll find out that either it’s thousands of patients—for common conditions—or just a few dozen if the condition is rare.”

How much experience does your hand surgeon have with the procedure you need?

“Evidence shows us that when a surgeon performs a lot of a type of surgery, the outcomes are better than they are for physicians who perform fewer surgeries each year,” says Dr. Parisi. “If thousands of Minnesotans are treated every year with the surgery you need, you want to know how many of these surgeries your hand surgeon has performed. How many of these surgeries does he or she perform each year?”

Dr. Parisi acknowledges that experience becomes a little bit tricky to assess for rare procedures. “But there are still questions you can ask,” she advises. “If a condition is rare, how many people get it? If your surgeon has done a rare procedure only a handful of times, that handful may actually be significant experience. With rare conditions, there are going to be some professionals who have never even seen the condition or who have only read about it.”

Is your surgeon fellowship trained and board certified?

“Fellowship training and/or significant experience in the surgery are critical as you evaluate your hand surgeon,” says Dr. Parisi. “If you are considering hand surgery, I recommend choosing a physician who is board certified and who has subspecialty training in upper extremity conditions.”

Does your surgeon have Additional Qualification in Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery?

“In hand surgery, there’s another qualification beyond fellowship training and board certification,” Dr. Parisi points out. “It’s called Additional Qualification in Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery. It is a qualification that I’ve earned. Knowing whether your hand surgeon has this qualification helps you determine just how devoted the surgeon is to training and education.”

“As a hand surgeon, I welcome a conversation with you about my qualifications and experience,” says Dr. Parisi. “A frank conversation builds the trust and confidence I want my patients to feel. And when you feel comfortable discussing your options with me, I know you’ll be in a better position to make an informed decision that is right for you.”

Summit Orthopedics offers upper extremity expertise and personalized care

Summit Orthopedics is home to fellowship-trained hand surgeons who have received the highest levels of training and exclusively provide care for conditions of the hand, wrist, and elbow. These orthopedic hand surgeons practice in Vadnais Heights, Woodbury, Eagan, Apple Valley, Blaine, Hastings, and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Start your journey to better function and less pain: Find your hand expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

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  • Debra M. Parisi, M.D.

    “Injuries to your hand, wrist and elbow are very disruptive. After figuring out what’s going on I’ll tailor a treatment plan that works with your lifestyle and allows you to get back to essential activities and the activities you love to do.”

    More about this expert

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