What worries 2 surgeons most about orthopedic, spine surgery

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Providing the best care for patients and the increasing demands being placed on physicians are some of the top worries for surgeons today.

Two surgeons recently spoke with Becker's to discuss what worries them most in their fields today.

Editor's note: This response was lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What worries you most as a surgeon today?

Patrick Hitchon, MD. Neurosurgeon at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics (Iowa City): I always need to give my patients the best care possible, as I would for myself and loved ones. To achieve that, I need to always come up with the right diagnosis. As physicians, we never want to make light of a patient’s complaints even if he/she is the 21st patient who comes in with back pain. The source of pain is not always musculo-ligamentous but could be due to a tumor (primary or metastatic) or infection. Diagnoses can sometimes be evasive. To help avoid such an occurrence, a multidisciplinary approach is advised. I never hesitate to consult with a radiologist, an oncologist or radiation therapist in a case that is challenging. Not only do I not want to miss a serious diagnosis, but I owe it to the patient who is entrusting his care to me. Some of our patients come from two or more hours away. The last thing they would want to do is come back to see another physician or get another test that can be done today. Having been involved in the care of family members, trying to get as much out of a single visit is much appreciated. That may take a call or two to an MD or scheduler, but I appreciated it and my patients will too.  

In short, treat others as you would wish for yourself and family, and you will never go wrong.

Blaine Bafus, MD. Orthopedic surgeon at MetroHealth (Cleveland, Ohio): The ever increasing crisis of physician burnout. While not an exhaustive list, I see burnout from increasing administrative and documentation demands, constant fear of declining reimbursement and the need to brand and commercialize medical practices seemingly ruining medicine for many of our colleagues in all medical disciplines.

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