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What is Hand Surgery?
Choosing a Hand Surgeon

The choice of any physician is an important decision and should take into account a number of factors. Naturally, patients hope and expect that their doctors are all highly trained, skilled, and experienced. Considering the rigorous standards of modern medical education and accreditation, it is generally accurate to assume that the vast majority of practitioners are competent. However, there remain significant differences among the capabilities of individual specialists. It is surprising that many patients simply see the doctor to whom they are referred, without investigating the quality and merits of that doctor, or being aware of the alternatives that may be available. If you are considering consultation with a hand specialist, you owe it to yourself to inquire about his or her qualifications.

To become a fully-accredited hand surgeon, one must first complete four years of medical school, similar to all other physicians. Following medical school, orthopedic surgery residency is a five-year, comprehensive education in the principles of bone and joint surgery and the practice of musculoskeletal care. After residency, another full year of fellowship in Hand and Upper Extremity surgery is required for one to enter practice as a hand specialist. A few hand surgeons have a residency background in General Surgery or Plastic Surgery, rather than Orthopedic Surgery. While non-orthopedic training does allow for hand specialty accreditation, it includes only one year of musculoskeletal experience; such surgeons typically limit their scope of practice solely to the hand rather than the entire upper limb.

Full accreditation can only be earned after a minimum of three years of safe and competent practice, judged rigorously and critically by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, initally through the general orthopedic Board Certification, followed by the Subspecialty Certificate in Orthopaedic Surgery of the Hand, formerly referred to as the Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in Hand Surgery. Fellowship status in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) requires completion of the certification process and the approval of a committee of professional peers. In general, any reputable hand surgeon today should be Board Certified and hold a Supbspecialty Certificate, and maintain Fellow status in the AAOS and ASSH, or be in good standing progressing along that pathway. Please see the Credentials and About pages to review Dr. Greer's qualifications and experience.

It seems self-evident that patients want to be treated ethically, with compassion, comfort, and above all, respect. From the perspective of a patient, this may be where the most notable differences among doctors lie. A review of Dr. Greer's mission statement and information about our practice allows insight into our views on these issues.

Unfortunately, in today's medical environment, it is all too common for patients to undergo surgery that may not have been the only option. Naturally, surgery is what surgeons do, and for a variety of reasons surgery is often the best option for many problems. However, for the large majority of the non-urgent conditions seen in elective practice, there are usually non-surgical means of treatment that should at least be considered and discussed. In Dr. Greer's practice, if surgery is recommended to a patient, that recommendation will also be accompanied by a thorough explanation of all other reasonable options with an honest disclosure of the potential success rates, risks, and benefits of each. Anything less falls short of sound medical advice.

Another consideration in the choice of a hand surgeon is the financial aspect. It is no secret that medical care often comes with a high price tag. Ironically, physicians have very little control or influence on the determination of fees for their services. While this issue has long been a subject of much debate on the national level, it is important to understand that healthcare is inherently expensive to provide. Even with theoretically maximum efficiency and minimum waste, the delivery of medical services in a safe and effective manner simply requires a great deal of valuable resources and skilled professional services. Unfortunately, this is compounded by the desire of some providers to maximize revenue by billing their patients with extra fees of suspect legitimacy. While there are bookkeeping tricks and loopholes that make this activity legal in a strict sense, in our practice we find it unethical. We strive to maintain accurate, transparent, and ethical billing practices to contribute to cost-effective care.

In consideration of training, experience, qualifications, ethics, and personal treatment, we attempt to envision the patient's image of an ideal hand surgery practice and strive for that concept as our goal.








Choosing a Hand Surgeon

Anatomy & Function

Hand Conditions & Treatments

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The Bone & Joint Center

Ferrell-Duncan Clinic

3555 S. National Ave.

Springfield, MO 65807

(417) 875-3800


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