At the time of colon cancer screening what questions should a patient ask a physician?

Expert Answers

IndranKrishnanMD (Physician - Gastroenterology (Verified) ) - 04 / 19 / 2012

I assume that you are asking as to the qualifications of the physician & the facility where this being done.

A) Are you a board certified physician in Gastroenterology or board certified colorectal surgeon? The physician preferably should a board certified Gastroenterologist as she/he is the only specialty physician who is specifically trained for this purpose exclusively for 3 years or more after previously having completed training & then board certified in Internal Medicine for an extra 3 years. Not infrequently, there are other physicians who undergo short courses of training to do colonoscopy & after few years in practice they may become capable of detecting precancerous polyps & removing during colon cancer screening (i.e colonoscopy) but their expertise is very much variable. Some are excellent & others are not so. Board certified Gastroenterologists/ colorectal surgeons maintain a certain degree of standard & are up to date on colon cancer screening/colonoscopy across the board.

You may also want to ask the physician about their complication rates, years of experience & how many colonoscopies they do per year but these are subjective & may not help you to make up your mind.

B) What Facility? If it is a hospital, the safety/quality is not a big issue as hospitals undergo rigorous quality control & inspection by accrediting agencies like Joint commission on a regular basis. If done in a free standing centers or doctors office, please ensure that this facility is accredited by proper agencies, licensed by CMS (Medicare) & local department of community health of that state. Complication rates are high in non accredited/licensed facilities. They are not required report/document any complications to any authorities unless investigated by complaints.

C) Are you & Facility in network with my Insurance company? Most (please note, most & not all!) commercial insurance companies & Medicare cover the screening colonoscopy if you are 50 years or older without any deductible & co pay if the the physician & the facility are in their network (i.e "in network"). Please verify this prior to booking the appointment so that you do not incur any unwarranted expenditures.

These are basic questions one should ask when meeting with the physician, but there can be many more questions like type of anesthesia etc. too based on how sophisticate you want to be!
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