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Why You Should Pick Your Own Trauma Surgeon

By Dr. Jeffrey Richmond, orthopedic trauma specialist at OAM

You hurt your ankle. Your child breaks his arm. Someone suffers a fracture or tendon injury that quickly gets complicated. Now what? Depending on where the injury occurs, you may find yourself in an Urgent Care or on your way to an Emergency Room via car, ambulance or even helicopter.

What happens next may be a blur. The on-call doctor will examine you to determine if surgery is needed. Life-threatening accidents require an immediate operation. Most times, however, fractures need attention within days not hours.

Fractures can be complicated. Experience matters when it comes to treatment. As a patient, you can request a specific surgeon at your hospital, elect to be transferred to another facility, or be discharged to follow up with a specialist as an outpatient. It is important to be seen by a surgeon with trauma training who specializes in the treatment of fractures.

The on-call surgeon at the hospital or the doctor you are referred to may be an orthopedic surgeon but is likely not a fracture/trauma specialist – most hospitals do not have fellowship-trained orthopedic trauma specialists available. There are only a handful of trauma specialists on all of Long Island.

Many orthopedic surgeons are trained in sub-specialties such as joint replacement, hand, foot, pediatrics, sports medicine and trauma. The physician who performed your successful knee replacement may not be the best choice if you fracture your arm or leg.

Aside from pelvic fractures, most orthopedic surgeons can fix routine injuries. Trauma surgeons have extensive experience with new fractures and older fractures that haven’t healed. Where you are treated first matters in the long run, even for simple injuries. If a fracture is treated incorrectly, it can be a lot more difficult to fix later on down the road.

It’s important to do research to find a qualified trauma surgeon in your area. Is your surgeon trained in trauma? Which hospital(s) is the physician affiliated with? These are important questions to ask when choosing the best care for you or a loved one. Every patient has the right to be treated by a physician of their choosing.

Along with my colleague Dr. Hamid Mostafavi, I am affiliated with North Shore University Hospital which is a level 1 trauma center and academic tertiary care center. We can also transfer patients to the private St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center® for certain reconstructive procedures. We have both been in private practice for over 20 years seeing trauma cases. Private physicians have the ability to make decisions independently to get the best outcomes for each patient. We work closely with other sub-specialists at Orthopaedic Associates of Manhasset, so our patients can experience seamless care for all orthopedic needs.

If you or a loved one experiences a fracture or other traumatic injury, please call our office 24/7 and we will arrange for a phone or in-person consultation and hospital transfer, if necessary. We are always happy to provide a second opinion or to assume your care.