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As a scientist and surgeon who has devoted his life to studying the hand, wrist, and forearm, I am always quite surprised to hear a patient say, “I have never heard of a hand surgeon! What do you do?”
Our hands serve many purposes. Hands help us eat, dress, write, earn a living, create art, and do many other activities. To do these activities, our hands require sensation and movement, such as joint motion, tendon gliding, and muscle contraction. Nerves have to fire, skin has to bend, bones have to be strong, and fingernails have to help us pick up small objects.
Hand surgeons are specialists who care for hand, wrist or arm joints, tendons, bones, muscles, nerves, skin, and fingernails.
What I do is help you return your arm to normal function as fast as possible. I have had many years of specialized training in medicine. Along the way, I have had to pass rigorous exams in medicine, orthopedics, and hand surgery.
There is no other physician or health care provider who has had the specialized training and passed the rigorous exams that a true hand surgeon has.
This discussion presumes that you have a hand problem and live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota metro and surrounding area. Dr. Fischer only treats hand problems. If you have a general orthopedic problem, call 763-520-7870, and the staff will direct you to a general orthopedist Dr. Fischer knows, trusts, and to whom he would send his own family. If you do not live in this area and need to find a hand surgeon, go to ASSH.org. At the far left of the options bar, click on the gray box titled “For Patients.” On the next page, on the far right of the options bar, click on the beige box titled “Find a Hand Surgeon,” or midway down the left side of the page, enter a city and state in the transparent gray box titled “Find a Hand Surgeon.”
Choosing the right doctor is a very important and, at times, complex problem. There is no single correct way to choose a doctor, but here are some things you should consider.
The first thing to consider is the doctor’s academic qualifications: is he or she board-certified in hand surgery? The highest certification that a doctor can have in hand surgery is called the Certificate of Added Qualifications in Hand Surgery. Don’t hesitate to ask questions when you are choosing a doctor — it is your hand, after all! If the office staff do not want to answer questions about the doctor’s qualifications, you do not want to go to that doctor.
Does the doctor only do hand surgery, or is hand surgery something he or she only does occasionally in addition to other types of surgery? You can usually find this out by asking the office receptionist.
Dr. Fischer limits his practice to only hand surgery, and he does hand surgery full-time. He does not do general orthopedics, plastic surgery, or general surgery.
The field of hand surgery is so broad that not all doctors have the same level of skill or interest in all problems.
Dr. Fischer has wide experience in standard hand problems such as fractures, carpal tunnel syndrome, and trigger finger. However, he is not an expert on burns, skin grafts, congenital anomalies, or brachial plexus, and refers patients with these problems to other hand surgeons who are specialists in these fields. Be sure that your hand surgeon has a special skill and interest in your hand problem.
We hope that these suggestions will help you in deciding if you would like to make an appointment with our office. Our number is 763-520-7870.
An interesting and insightful question when you are selecting a doctor is to ask the receptionist how much time they allot for a new patient visit or for a routine follow-up visit.
Many patients find that they cannot get a timely appointment, even for an urgent matter such as a fracture.
Our office policy is that any patient with a new fracture will be seen in the office the next day we are in the clinic, whether or not there is an appointment opening. Obviously, emergencies cannot be scheduled or put off until convenient for the doctor’s schedule. But it’s also not appropriate to make other patients wait unless it’s absolutely necessary. That’s why, rather than overbook the schedule, Dr. Fischer will come in early, skip lunch, or stay late to ensure that urgent matters receive care.
You probably want to stay within your network, since it will be more expensive to see a doctor outside of your network. However, depending on how serious your problem is, or how important your hand is to your work or recreation, you might consider seeing someone outside your plan if it’s necessary, at least for an initial consultation.
Dr. Fischer participates in a variety of health plans. If Dr. Fischer is not in your network, call our office to get an estimate of how much it might cost you to go out of network should you choose to see him. But regardless of your insurance plan, please be sure to read this entire page for important information about choosing a doctor for your hand problem.
Many patients don’t realize that many plans pay financial incentives to their participating doctors to limit the treatment that they offer to their patients, such as restricting referrals to same-plan doctors. This is the “managed” part of “managed care.” There are also other, more subtle, ways that managed care may affect your hand problem.
Dr. Fischer does not participate in any plans that pay financial incentives to limit patient care.