When Ryan Braun sat out the second game of the Red Sox series, he shared more detail about his thumb injury than he had previously. Braun said two potential surgical options were unappealing, but that a third may be promising – except it hasn’t been done many times. If Braun does eventually decide surgery is the best choice, Brewers fans would certainly hope his physician’s experience and credentials are impeccable.
Braun’s hand specialist is Donald C. Sheridan of Scottsdale, Arizona. Tom Haudricourt’s blog post describes Dr. Sheridan as “a leader in performing hand and finger surgeries on athletes.” According to this Adam McCalvy article, Braun has been a patient since at least June of last year, and Dr. Sheridan has also treated Rickie Weeks. It’s not surprising Braun would choose a physician based on his reputation and (one assumes) the personal recommendation of a colleague/friend. Isn’t that how most people pick their doctors?
Another way people pick their doctors is by reading online reviews. Although they may not be authoritative, online reviews play an increasingly larger role in how consumers evaluate all sorts of products and professional services. With that in mind, I let my fingers do the walking and had a look at what Google had to say about Dr. Sheridan’s bedside manner.
Let’s first acknowledge that many sources of patient dissatisfaction are beyond the control of physicians and their staff. Missed appointments are a huge source of expense, frustration, and lost productivity for physicians, and often lead to delays for other patients. On a broader scale, the U.S. healthcare model means doctors are beholden in large part to third-party payers (federal/state government and commercial insurers), and their financial stability depends more on volume of services than patient experience. That being said, the following information is all publicly available to anyone interested in becoming a patient of Dr. Sheridan’s. (Quotes below edited for clarity.)
Type “hand specialist Don Sheridan” into Google and the top result is his Healthgrades page. When you click on the patient satisfaction tab, the overall score as of this writing is 3.3 out of 5.0 – below the national average. In fact, in all categories of patient satisfaction, Dr. Sheridan scores below average – including ease of scheduling appointments, office environment, wait time, and staff friendliness. His lowest score is 3.0 out of 5.0 for “Spends appropriate amount of time with patients.”
I understand Yelp is a popular resource in some circles, but there is only one review for Dr. Sheridan. And it’s a doozy:
Very rude doctor. If he cannot cut you open, he isn’t interested in helping you. He was so rude it just shook me to my core. Now I have requested copies of medical records to go elsewhere and the office is stalling. Been waiting 3 weeks.
On the website RateMDs.com, Dr. Sheridan scores 3.1 out of 5.0 on based on 12 reviews – earning him a “fair” rating and an ambivalent emoticon. There are more positive than negative reviews, but obviously the disparaging ones are more interesting:
This is the WORST doctor I have ever had to see! I waited for 3 for weeks to get an appointment because I had seen 3 other doctors that didn’t know what was wrong. Dr. Sheridan is so arrogant that because I went to get other opinions from other doctors that meant to him that I was a “junkie” and told me to find another doctor.
The largest sample size is 29 ratings at Vitals.com, which also gives Dr. Sheridan the lowest score – 2.5 out of 5.0. Again, the opinions of unhappy patients are better reads:
After the surgeries I was having more numbness than before surgery. I returned to the office to tell the doctor. He said it looks like you may have carpal tunnel….my reply was that you did the surgery. His reply was “I did?” After looking at my records he realized that he did do the surgery and suggested that I do the surgery again on my dollar!
Certainly, patients with bad experiences might be more motivated to write negative online reviews. These data points may not properly represent the quality of Dr. Sheridan’s work. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that Braun’s hand specialist is not universally beloved by his patients. If Braun decides to continue seeing Dr. Sheridan, let’s hope he has a better experience.
(Image: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)