As parents we are often called upon for advice from our children who seek our guidance through life’s stages. For the most part, they value our wisdom and experience. But there is probably no place where experience matters more than in health care, where the stakes are much higher.

Last month the value of that experience hit home when my mother-in-law, who lives in Philadelphia, underwent a heart procedure to fix what another practitioner failed to perform correctly. After being sent to University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, where the surgeons were able to fix the error that nearly took her life, we experienced a happy ending, and look forward to celebrating Mother’s Day with her this year.

When I asked the doctors in Philadelphia what went wrong, their response was simple—experience. So how do physicians gain experience? Well, we will talk about that in the next issue. For now, patients need to know the importance of asking questions and gathering as much information as possible when it comes to making healthcare decisions. Ask about the procedure; the physician’s qualifications and experience; the availability of alternative treatments; and about seeking a second opinion.

We are very fortunate in Buffalo to have state-of-the-art procedures right in our own backyard. Still, it’s important to remember to give yourself the same advice you would give to your children – do your research and ask questions. After all, we are heading into our best season – filled with blooming flowers, farmers’ markets, and festivals. Stay healthy and enjoy it, and Happy Mother’s Day to all who are celebrating!

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