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    What steps do you take to avoid surgical complications?


    Maxwell Meng, MDDr. Meng“Pay attention to detail prior to surgery.

    Since I do oncology, I rely a lot on x-rays and imaging studies. Carefully looking at images helps you plan your surgery, lets you know if there is any aberrant anatomy, and gets you ready for potentially unexpected problems.

    Look carefully at all the information you have for surgery, from the patient point of view. There are two aspects of informed consent. One is, what are the most common complications that may occur, and then, not as common, what are the most serious complications that can come up? You have to make sure the patients and their families are well prepared.

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    Then intraoperatively, what I tell my residents all the time is, ‘Same way every time.’ Doing a relatively small number of types of operations, this is a little easier for me. Having a system and a methodical way is good for me. I usually operate with a resident, so it helps to have consistency of approach in the operating room.

    After surgery, you have to recognize that complications are inevitably going to happen, so early identification and prompt recognition are important. Identifying and managing complications early can mitigate the severity. If complications do happen, it’s critical to communicate with the patient and his family, and that I think is often the hardest part.”

    Maxwell Meng, MD

    San Francisco

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    Karen Nash
    Karen Nash is a medical reporter and media consultant based in Monroeville, PA.


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