Choosing a surgeon

Sometimes, having a choice can make things more difficult. Your family doctor will not refer you to a surgeon who is unable to perform the sort of procedures your condition might require. However, choice is becoming a greater feature for patients in planning their health care. Surgeons cannot advertise, or claim they are better than their colleagues. Not only does this break the ethical codes laid down by the General Medical Council, but it is not possible to make such claims in an individual case.

Of course there are some surgeons who are very experienced in particular areas of surgery, or who are highly respected by their peers, and you may wish to try and find treatment with them. Your doctor will be able to give you good advice about the options for treatment available to you, but you may choose to do some investigating yourself.

Most countries now have their own specialist societies for the regulation, training and practice of hand surgery. These societies have websites which can help direct you to the most appropriate person close to you. In the UK, the British Society for Surgery of the Hand (BSSH) ( is the recognised body which hand surgeons belong to and support. The BSSH website will help you locate hand surgeons near you, who are Members of the BSSH.

Individual surgeon's websites can also help you decide who to ask to treat you. You will find some websites which reassure and inform you, and some websites that equally don't appeal to you. A surgeon's qualifications, experience and areas of clinical interest will usually be described. You will be able to see how each Consultant contributes to the continuing development of his or her specialty by invitations to lecture, publications in postgraduate textbooks and scientific journals, and commitments to surgical education with organisations such as the world renowned AO Foundation. You will be able to gain an understanding of each surgeon's standing in his or her specialty, and in the eyes of his or her peers.