"Public law and policy do not necessarily protect us from unreasonable and untrue claims," says Dr. Altman. "A physician needs to be licensed in medicine -- which means earning a recognized medical degree -- and can hang out a shingle in any specialty he chooses; the state does not control what area of medicine he practices or which type of specialist he says he is unless there are complaints and he is brought before the Office of Professional Medical Conduct. Often, however, by then it is too late."
"A physician should have and be willing to provide evidence that he or she has trained in the area of their expertise," says Dr. Altman. "For example, patients want to locate a plastic surgeon who trained in plastic surgery, which means a post-surgical residency fellowship in the sub-specialty. Each residency or fellowship program gives a certificate certifying the dates of service as well as the hospital and department in which the physician trained." Physicians are usually quite proud of their achievements and keep these and many other framed diplomas in their offices. If they are not available, then at least a curriculum vitae or a brochure describing a doctor's training should be available and should be carefully examined by the patient him or herself. "If a physician is either unable or unwilling to disclose this information, it becomes a clear issue of 'medical consumer beware,' says Dr. Altman.
After training in their chosen field, each medical or surgical sub-specialty has a certifying board that is approved by the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS). After spending the requisite number of years training, a physician has to take an examination in order to be certified. After being certified, a surgeon often applies to the American College of Surgeons for a fellowship. These credentials can be checked in libraries and hospital libraries, where there is a Directory of American Medical Specialists that lists all physicians and the various specialties as well as a number of local physician directories which provide the same information.
"For example, The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is not approved by the American Board of Medical Specialists and neither are a host of other so-called 'boards,' advises Dr. Altman, who is board-certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgeons, Inc. which is the only plastic surgery board recognized by the ABMS. A gynecologist, ENT or general surgeon may be an exquisitely trained physician--but if they did cosmetic surgery, where did they learn to do it? Was it on-the-job training, or a correspondence course? How often do they go for a refresher course? Are they affiliated with a certified hospital in case of emergency? "
Dr. Altman advises the would-be medical consumer "not to be impressed by a P.C. after the physician's name--it only means that they are incorporated. Jane Doe, M.D., F.A.C.S.', on the other hand, actually tells one something about the qualifications of the physician."
If patients are still confused, Dr. Altman advises them, "check a third area: a physician's associations and affiliations. If a physician is on the staff at a well-respected local teaching hospital in the department that is appropriate to their qualifications, then patients at least know that his or her qualifications have been appropriately researched by the hospital's committees and should therefore be valid and current. "Today, however, because of skyrocketing hospital costs, the trend is toward more out-patient surgery and care," says Dr. Altman. "Because of this physicians have moved further away from the hospital. This may be good for the patient from a cost standpoint, but a well-qualified physician--especially a surgeon--should maintain a relationship with a hospital just in case there is a problem with a patient that requires hospitalization." Dr. Altman further advises patients to remember that, "when a physician is outside of an institutional setting, there is no quality control--or peer review other than what the physician sets for himself."
Finally, how does the physician approach and deal with you? "You don't have to like your surgeon as a friend, but do you think he/she has you, the patient at heart as his first consideration?" asks Dr. Altman." For example, did your plastic surgeon explain all that was involved to the patient directly or leave it up to someone else? "It is important that the physician spend time with a patient and explain the goals of his or her care -- the alternatives, risks and possible complications. Usually, there is a lot of ground to be covered; a good measure is always to ask yourself whether you were given an opportunity to ask questions and have them answered to your satisfaction, or were you just rushed out of the office?"
Patients must look into many areas of a physician's training, especially certification, association, and personality prior to allowing a medical professional to manage their health care. "If you do your homework well," says Dr. Altman, "you should end up with a compassionate well-trained competent physician with whom you feel totally at ease and in whom you have the utmost confidence."
JASON I. ALTMAN, MD
BOARD CERTIFIED PLASTIC SURGEON
Miami Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Jason I. Altman was born and raised in New York City and the surrounding suburbs. He attended Dartmouth College, where he graduated at the top of his class with a degree in Engineering. From there, he went on to attend medical school at The State University of New York, where he again graduated at the top of his class. He was then accepted into a residency in Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, at the world renowned Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Dr. Altman served as Chief Resident here, before moving to South Florida to complete his training at The University of Miami and Jackson Memorial Hospitals. Here Dr. Altman served as Chief Resident in Plastic and Reconstructive surgery.
After completing his residency in Plastic Surgery, Dr. Altman was honored with an invitation to become the Jerome P. Webster Fellow with Interplast. Every year, only one plastic surgeon in the entire country is selected for this honor. Dr. Altman spent the year traveling across the world performing free surgery on children in developing countries and training local surgeons on the latest techniques in plastic and reconstructive surgery. Dr. Altman went on to become one of the founders of The Plastic Surgery Institute of Miami, and in the summer of 2010 moved the practice to Coral Gables.
Dr. Altman's professional interests include all aspects of cosmetic and aesthetic plastic surgery. He is primarily focused on surgery of the breast and body including breast augmentation, breast lifting, liposuction and abdominoplasty. He also has a strong interest in revision and reconstructive surgery, helping patients who may be unhappy with prior results achieve the look they want. Additionally, given his background, Dr. Altman performs a large number of rhinoplasties or nose jobs. His expertise in this area allows him to perform both functional and cosmetic rhinoplasty, giving you not only the nose of your dreams but one that helps you breath more comfortably as well.
Dr. Altman prides himself on his ability to provide natural, long lasting results. Every procedure is tailored to the individual to provide a look that matches your body, your face and your desires.
Dr. Altman is Board Certified by both the American Board of Plastic Surgery and The American Board of Otolaryngology.
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