As someone who performs plastic surgery, do you wish you knew the warning signs of psychological distress in a patient? Do you feel that recognizing and addressing issues such as trauma and Body Dysmorphic Disorder, which can impact patient self-worth and drive unrealistic expectations of perfection, are outside your areas of specialty training? Even though you are confident in your skills, you may be concerned about a particular patient’s satisfaction with surgery and how it may impact the reputation of your practice. In fact, it is possible that unhappy patients have left damaging reviews or even sued you, even after a surgery that was objectively successful. You might wish you could recognize the signs that indicate a particular patient is prone to dissatisfaction, unrealistic entitlement, and lashing out behavior, regardless of the objective success of a surgery.
In the US, psychological evaluations are not required before bariatric or plastic surgery. However, surgeons conduct initial screenings, which sometimes raise red flags. For a medical provider, it can be difficult to discern exactly what those red flags mean, especially because many patients are insistent on surgery and, as such, sometimes under-represent their true mental health history. As a result, many surgeons wonder whether it is a good idea to add a mental health professional to their team of treatment providers.
The following quiz can help you determine if consulting with a psychologist can help you best serve the needs of your patient, maximize the positive results of your hard work and artistry, and avoid future repercussions for your medical license and practice.
The following statements identify warning signs of mental health problems in plastic or bariatric surgery patients.
This quiz is not meant to serve as a diagnostic tool. It can help you better understand any underlying issues that might cause surgical dissatisfaction in your patients. It can also help you identify whether working with a psychologist might help your overall practice.
For this quiz, think about a specific patient who has raised some concerns. Simply read each statement and assign a corresponding score. Then, add up your numbers and read on to learn more about what your score means.
1. Considering your knowledge of your patient, if their expectations are not met after the surgery, how likely is it that they will:a. Leave your practice to find another doctor? Unlikely Likely Very Likely
b. Take legal action against you or your practice?Unlikely Likely Very Likely
c. Take legal action against you or your practice?Unlikely Likely Very Likely
2. To what extent has this patient expressed dissatisfaction with other body parts outside the scope of this surgery?Not at all Somewhat Very Much
3. To what extent has this patient expressed negative experiences with other doctors?Not at all Somewhat Very Much
4. To what extent has this patient expressed feeling depressed, anxious, or stressed out?Not at all Somewhat Very Much
5. To what extent do you think this patient will be unhappy regardless of your medical expertise and quality of care?Not at all Somewhat Very Much
6. Does this patient have a history of trauma?No I don't know Yes
7. Does this patient have a history of suicidal ideation or non-lethal self-harm? No I don't know Yes
8. How comfortable/willing are you to diagnose preexisting psychological problems, or manage post-surgery mental health symptoms?Very Much Somewhat Not at all
9. How much more comfortable would you feel if you were to connect your patient with a mental health provider to help manage their expectations of surgery and address any pre- or post-surgery mental health symptoms?Not at all Somewhat Very Much