Medical providers – whether hospitals or physicians – constantly publicize numbers. Numbers, by their mere existence, tend to legitimize services. But what do these numbers mean?
When someone claims to have 10 years of experience, does that mean 10 years of progressive improvement of skill and knowledge, or does it mean one year of experience ten times over? Why repeatedly practice the same mistake over and over? However, there are other ways to evaluate experience.
Patients often judge their potential surgeon by the number of cases they have performed and how many they currently perform. Yet, the true measure of experience is a surgeon’s approach to self-assessment. A surgeon should try to make every procedure better than the last. This goal is only accomplished through a continual self-assessment of technique and outcomes.
A savvy medical consumer will seek out the meaning behind the numbers. Sometimes one well-planned question can provide all of the answers: What are you currently doing to improve your outcomes?