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Fly-In Surgery

Q: My dad has just been told he needs a triple, possibly quadruple, heart bypass surgery.  Both the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic (far from where he lives) are supposed to be leaders in bypass surgery. How feasible is it to "fly-in" and receive treatment if you don't have an established relationship with a cardiologist affiliated with either of these clinics? 


Dr. Donnica:
My opinion is based upon being a doctor and having been a patient where I flew in to another city far away to have major surgery from "the expert" in that procedure. Of course, each patient's situation is different.

You're asking if it's feasible (the answer is yes), rather than first asking if it's advisable.

The major problem with "fly-in" surgery is that you then have to fly home!!!  Not exactly what your average post-op patient feels like doing.  I TOTALLY underestimated how horrible an experience that would be.  This in and of itself can compromise the whole operation!  Another issue is having major surgery and recuperation far away from friends and family who can come visit and/or inconveniencing family members who have to fly to another city, stay in a hotel, disrupt their lives, etc.  Of course, being great family members, they may be perfectly willing to do this for you, but is it really necessary?

Does your dad's condition really require THE expert, or is he better off getting very good care from the very good doctors who are within driving distance of his home?  There is a lot to be said for having your own surgeon available for routine follow-up as well as in the event of any complications.  In my case, I had to see "the expert" because I had a very rare problem that other surgeons in my area didn't feel comfortable correcting.  But I had a few complications, each of which necessitated flying back to consult the expert for follow-up, either painfully on my own or inconveniently with a family member.

You didn't say where your dad lived. My recommendation would be to find the best doctor/hospital in the area and have the surgery there. 

Good luck--
Donnica L. Moore, MD
President, DrDonnica.com

Created: 8/1/2002  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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