Your Orthopaedic Surgeon

Your orthopaedic surgeon is committed to providing you with the best treatment for your condition.

Under the Canada Health Act, all patients must be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon by a family physician. Your family physician can contact the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, the governing authority for all medical professionals, for a list of orthopaedic surgeons in your province. Your family physician or orthopaedic surgeon can usually provide info on specific procedures done in Canada.

Prior to your initial consult with your orthopaedic surgeon, the most important step is to get a proper diagnosis and referral from your family physician. Depending on where you live it could take up to six months or more before an orthopaedic surgeon can see you for the first time. This is not because your care is unimportant, but because demand sometimes outweighs the health care system’s ability to meet it. If you are willing to travel, your family physician may be able to provide a referral to a suitable surgeon with a shorter wait time in a city close by. Some provinces post wait lists, usually measuring time to surgery (be sure to read their explanations), on their health ministry’s websites.

Once you see the orthopaedic surgeon, ask questions and voice your concerns, especially when you do not understand. Ask for information about your diagnosis, treatment alternatives and the course of care, especially expectations for surgical outcomes. Discuss risks of surgery and possible complications. Learn what to expect before, during and after surgery. Always be honest and complete when you talk with your doctor. Share your point of view and don’t hold back information.

The Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation is a charity, and cannot provide medical advice, a second opinion or referrals to physicians or specialists. We can, however, provide you with someone to talk to who has been in your position. Ortho Connect is a peer support program that matches newly referred orthopaedic patients with trained volunteers who have already undergone similar surgical treatment. For more information click here or call 1-800-461-3639.