While I understand you might be taken aback by the question, many hospitals are moving toward arbitration as a means of reducing malpractice coverage costs. I personally don’t see it as a reason to be concerned about the surgeon. However, I spoke with an attorney, who advised not agreeing to arbitration, as it isn’t germane to your medical condition and may limit your options later.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have arthritis in both knees, injuries from the past. My knees hurt when going up and down stairs, not level ground.
How do I go about finding a good orthopedic doctor to check out my knees? There are so many doctors who do knee surgery. — D.M.P.
ANSWER: Well, I must admit to some bias here as an internist. I would recommend starting with a rheumatologist, an expert in medical treatment of joint problems, or an internist, rather than going first to a surgeon. While orthopedic surgeons certainly have expertise in all kinds of treatment (both medical and surgical), I reserve the expertise of the orthopedic surgeons for the people with knee pain who, after a medical evaluation, I think might benefit from surgery.
Knee pain is such a common problem that any rheumatologist will be expert in diagnosing your condition.
There are many kinds of arthritis, each with different treatments and prognoses. It’s a good rule of thumb not to see a surgeon unless you think you need surgery, and you don’t know enough yet to make that decision.