Pre-Surgical Suggestions to Prepare You
The decision to have surgery is a very important one. You will need to be fully informed and prepared for the surgery. Also to be aware of any special needs that you may have following your procedure. Your preparation can have a positive affect on the outcomes of your surgical procedure. Your physician and the hospital will send you all of the important information prior to your procedure. Be prepared to answer many of the same questions during the surgical process: Asking about and re-verifying important information at various points in the process is for your safety and well-being.
Review this checklist to assist you in preparing for your surgery:
- Make a list of questions to ask your physician/surgeon regarding the type of surgery recommended.
- Determine if the surgical procedure is right for you.
- Obtain a second opinion, if desired.
- Check with your health plan regarding costs and coverage of the procedure. * Prepare lists of prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, herbal supplements that you take (or have recently taken) for physicians; review with the anesthesiologist and surgeons.
- Your physician will arrange for preoperative laboratory tests and an interview with your anesthesiologist.
- Follow all instructions during the weeks and days preceding surgery.
- Discontinue indicated prescription or over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements prior to surgery, as directed by your surgeon/physician, with the dosages and times you take them.
- Arrange for necessary home care, equipment, etc., following surgery (this will be covered in your discharge plan).
- Sign all informed consent and other legal forms before surgery.
- Quit smoking to help in your recovery process.
- If you use a CPAP machine for sleeping, ask your provider for your settings so we may use them while you’re in the hospital.
It is important for patients to be informed about the surgery being recommended, particularly if it is elective surgery (an operation you choose to have performed), rather than an emergency surgery (also called urgent surgery). All surgeries have risks and benefits that you should know about before deciding whether the procedure is appropriate for you.
Tips for Communicating With Your Physician
It is important to communicate your feelings, questions, and concerns with your physician prior to having surgery. It will help you to have a better experience and improved outcomes. The following suggestions may help to improve communication between you and your physician:
- If you do not understand your physician’s responses, ask questions until you do. There may be medical terms that are confusing or processes that will help understand how it will go.
- Take notes, or ask a family member or friend to accompany you and take notes for you. You can also bring a tape recorder, so you can review information later.
- Ask your physician to write down his/her instructions, if necessary.
- Ask your physician where you can find printed material about your condition. Many physicians have this information in their offices.
If you still have questions, ask the physician where you can go for more information.
Learning About Your Surgeon
It is important to have confidence in the physician who will be performing your surgery. Whether this is someone you have chosen yourself, or a physician/surgeon you have been referred to, you can make sure that he/she is qualified to perform this operation. This may include any/all of the following:
- Ask your primary care physician, your local medical society, or health insurance company for information regarding the physician/surgeon’s experience with the procedure.
- Ask about the physician/surgeon’s credentials and whether he/she has any additional certifications that make him/her more experienced in performing the procedure.
- Make certain the physician/surgeon is affiliated with an accredited healthcare facility. When considering surgery, where it is performed is often as important as who is performing the procedure.
Managing Your Pain After Surgery
It’s not unusual to experience some pain and discomfort following a surgical procedure. Our healthcare team is committed to managing your pain so you are as comfortable as possible. We’ll ask you to share the discomfort you are feeling so that we may take action. It is important to tell us:
- What “hurts”
- Where it hurts
- How much it hurts
- And how well we are managing your pain
Rating Your Pain
Your physicians and nurses will ask you to rate your pain. We use the zero to ten scale, with ten being the most severe and zero being no pain. You should actively participate by asking your physician what to expect regarding pain and what options he or she will use to alleviate your discomfort.
Pain Control Options
Both drug and non-drug treatments can help to prevent and control pain. Sometimes a combination of treatments works to manage pain. You, your family and your nurse and doctor will work together to find what controls your pain.
Information on Medications
Various medicines can be used to manage your pain. For mild pain, a nonprescription drug like aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Advil) may be helpful. It’s important to speak with your surgeon to determine which is best for you. For more intense pain, a stronger prescription drug like morphine may be needed. Your need for medicine may change over time, which is normal. Don’t worry about getting “hooked” on pain medicines. Research studies show that this is very rare — nearly all people stop taking pain medicine when the pain stops.
Many other treatments are used to treat pain. Some examples of non-drug treatments are:
- Use of heat and cold
- Rest or position change
- Relaxation methods
- Nerve blocks
Mobility & Recovery
It is important to keep yourself comfortable enough, so that you can move around, walk and increase your activity. Increased activity will speed the recovery time, and help prevent post-operative complications.
A: Your physician should clearly explain the surgical procedure, explaining the steps involved and providing you with illustrative examples. You should ask if there are different methods for performing this operation and why he/she favors one way over another.