Jan 15, 2017

Informed surgical patients have the best chance of a successful surgery. Patients who are well informed about their options and their surgical procedure have the least stress before and after surgery.

With so much information available online, it is difficult for many patients to know what is most relevant for their own surgery. Patients should ask questions about their procedure, but they also should understand their financial obligations and their insurance benefits. Is your surgeon Board Certified? How about Fellowship trained? The more patients know, the less emotional anxiety they will have to deal with in recovery, when they will probably experience physical pain as well.

The bottom line is that patients who address all their concerns and fears prior to surgery, have realistic expectations, get their medical house in order, and have family or friends for support do the best. So if you are preparing for surgery or are considering surgery, here is a list of some things to think about beforehand.

Informed Consent

1. Check out reputable websites to get information about your condition and the surgical options available to you.

2. Make a list of questions to discuss with your surgeon specific to your surgery. Make sure you understand the risks and benefits of the procedure, including the short-term and long-term success rates. Are your expectations realistic?

3. Ask your surgeon if you can speak to a patient who had a similar procedure.

4. After surgery, make sure you understand the discharge instructions, recovery period and limitations on certain activities, including how much time you will miss from work.

Preventing medication and treatment errors

5. Make a list of all your medical problems, previous surgeries, medications and doses. This will be helpful to your surgical team.

6. Know what you are allergic to, and which medications give you side effects.

7. Bring a copy of your living will or medical care preferences with you, if indicated. Having an informed family member with you as your advocate is wise.

8. Ask your surgeon why he or she prefers a particular hospital. Does the facility have a hospitalist or case manager to handle any medical problems that occur while you are in the hospital?

9. Your surgeon should be Board Certified and the certification should be current.

Minimizing financial costs and surprises

10. Make sure your insurance company approves your procedure. Make sure your policy covers the hospital fees and all other services you will receive that are recommended by your surgeon.