Hello and welcome to HealingWell. I certainly understand your wanting to choose the best surgeon for your husband.
Here are a few pointers in helping you make your final decision.
A good sign of a surgeon's competence is certification by a surgical board that is approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Surgeons who are board-certified in a surgical specialty have completed years of residency training and demonstrated knowledge and competence by successfully completing a rigorous examination.
The letters FACS (Fellow of the American College of Surgeons) after a surgeon's name mean the surgeon has passed a thorough evaluation of both professional competence and ethical fitness. Fellows are board-certified surgeons who are committed to placing the welfare of their patients above any other consideration.
Consider asking your surgeon how many pericardiectomies he has performed in the past year. Many studies suggest that surgical outcomes tend to be better when surgical volume (the number of cases) is highest. A surgeon who does many pericardiectomies each year will probably be a better choice than one who does few. But how many is “many”? Unfortunately, there is no definite answer. While some excellent surgeons can maintain their skills in doing a specific operation without continuing practice, if a doctor is not performing an operation like your husbands at least every few weeks, you have reason to consider whether a more practiced surgeon might lead to a better outcome. If your surgeon practices in a teaching hospital, be sure to insist that your chosen surgeon, rather than an intern or resident, perform the operation.
Choosing a doctor who practices at a highly reputable, accredited hospital, usually improves the chances of surgical quality while, again, not guaranteeing it.
Am I correct in believing the physician you are referring to is Dr. Alan Schwartz, the chief of cardiology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia?
I wish you the best in choosing a surgeon. Perhaps another member will know of someone on the East Coast they can recommend to you.