Kevin Schuster, MD, MPH, is an acute care surgeon who specializes in general surgery, trauma, and surgical critical care. As a general surgeon, he treats a range of conditions and has a special interest in benign colon and rectal surgery, in addition to surgical care for gall bladder and hernia issues. He also is a member of a team of surgeons and specialists who provide care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to patients at Yale New Haven Hospital’s Level 1 Trauma Center.
“General surgery is rewarding for a surgeon, because the disease is not often life-threatening, but the surgery improves lives,” says Dr. Schuster. The routine elective general surgery procedures he performs are almost always minimally invasive, involving short hospital stays and quick recoveries for patients. “You see the patients in the office preoperatively, do the surgery, and then you see them later and see the positive impact you have had,” he says.
As a trauma and emergency surgeon, he uses similar surgical skills to treat injuries to the chest and abdomen in addition to severe abdominal conditions often requiring surgery. “One of the challenges in the emergency room is that you might have to discuss life and death issues with people you met just 10 minutes ago,” he says. “I don't say everything will be okay when it's not, and I won't set the stage for a terrible outcome when a good one is likely. I try to be honest with patients.”
All interactions with patients are rewarding, Dr. Schuster says. “Even though you see them when they are sick—sometimes at their most critical times—they remember. There are patients who still send me Christmas cards,” he says.
In addition to providing surgical care, Dr. Schuster takes a lead role in addressing quality issues in the Yale Medicine Department of Surgery. His research interests include long-term outcomes in trauma patients and the optimization of emergency general surgery care.