A friend recently emailed me to ask whether I knew of a good surgeon for his hernia, I had no recommendation as that's one surgery I've been able to avoid so far. But I don't envy his search for someone he can trust and count on in the arena of taking a scalpel to his flesh. There are too many questions to ask.

Do you want a younger or older doctor? What about the busy doctor that it takes 6 weeks to see?

Since 1992 I've had five surgeries on my spine, lost a gallbladder and endured some procedures on my right ankle and knees so I've been in the doctor hunting business for some serious surgeries. When it came to finding a doctor I developed a postulate; I wanted my surgeon to be a bit on the older and experienced side, and I wanted my surgery to be very early in the morning because A) it is early in the morning of the doc's day too when he's at his freshest and his mind isn't cluttered with other business and worries of the day, the caffien jitters he may have had earlier were run out on the treadmill and he's in his best physical, mental and emotional state of the day, B) the main hospital staff and full daytime resources are on hand throughout the day in case something goes south and, C) since you can't eat or drink after midnight I say let's get it out of the way early so maybe I can have some lunch.

In picking a doctor I also like to see a lot of Diplomas and Certifications pertaining to whatever area I'm having sliced on, hanging on the wall. Experience, age, and wisdom guided my doctor choosing. But I always left out consideration of their caseload or the rest of their practice. Seems according to new research that's important too.

A new study from Harvard recently found that you have the higher risk of death with a doctor over 60 years and a lesser risk with one under 40, but all in all, your greatest chance of success is with the busiest doctor.

The study based on 730,000 Medicare patients treated between 2011 and 2014 by more than 18,800 hospital-based internists now also called hospitalists.

Caring for a large number of patients has no detrimental correlation with a physicians age because seeing lots of patients keeps the "doctor's skill set strong". After all, it is called practicing medicine. The more patients a doctor sees, the better doctor he is, according to the findings here.

This new information adds a new dimension to the search for a trustworthy doctor. So I can now advise my friend to look for a hernia surgeon about 35-45 years old with a very busy practice.