Your doctor is responsible for providing you with the risks, benefits and/or alternatives to the procedure that is proposed. It is important to advise your doctor about any concerns or questions you may have. Some additional questions for your doctor to address include:
- The length of time the procedure takes;
- How many days you will need to stay in the hospital if the procedure requires an inpatient stay;
- What limitations or restrictions you will have after the procedure;
- How long it will take for you to recuperate after the procedure and before you can return to work;
- The most common complications of the procedure.
Once your procedure is scheduled, you may be contacted by a member of the hospital staff to obtain insurance information. It is important to bring your insurance card with you to the facility.
If you have an executed Advance Directive, please bring a copy of the document with you to place in your medical record. Although the Advance Directive is usually “suspended” at the time of any surgical or invasive procedure, it is important that we know the person whom you have designated as your health care “agent.” This person has the legal make health care decisions for you if you are not able to do so.
Your Medical History
At the time of your admission to the facility, it is important that you provide critical information about your medical history:
- Do you have drug or food allergies?
- Has your general health been good?
- Do you have a fever, cold, or rash?
- What over-the counter medications do you take [especially aspirin or herbal medications]?
- Do you take blood thinners like Coumadin or steroids like prednisone?
- Could you be pregnant?
- Do you use alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs? This question is asked for your safety and is kept confidential. It is never used against you.
- Do you have diabetes, high blood pressure or any form of heart disease?
Some of the tests that may be ordered by your physician prior to a procedure include:
- Chest x-ray
- Electrocardiogram [EKG]
- Blood and urine tests
Health care practitioners are required to check your wrist ID band to validate your name and date of birth against any requisition or chart form before performing even the simplest procedure. Do not hesitate to remind them to do so.
Your Role in Preparing for Surgery
- Try to quit or cut down on smoking before surgery. People who do not smoke have better outcomes then people who do smoke.
- Ask your doctor whether he wants you to stop taking any medication such as aspirin or Ibuprofen.
- Arrange for someone to drive you to the hospital and to pick you up.
- Stop drinking alcohol [liquor, beer and wine] at least two days prior to the procedure.
- Call your doctor immediately if you have a fever, a cold or rash. The procedure may be postponed.
The Evening Prior to and the Morning of Your Procedure
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before.
- Do not chew gum.
- When you brush your teeth, rinse and spit the water out.
- Ask your doctor if there are any medications you should take the morning of the procedure; take the pills with only a very small sip of water.
- Ask your doctor about taking an injection of insulin if you are an insulin-dependent diabetic. Because you will not be eating he may want to give an order to start a special IV solution.
- Follow any other instructions your doctor may have provided you.
Before You Leave Home
- Shower or bathe – you will be given any special instructions by your doctor;
- Remember not to eat or drink;
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing;
- Leave all your valuables such as jewelry, watches, and cash at home;
- Remove makeup, lipstick and nail polish.
What to Bring
- A copy of your Advance Health Care Directive;
- A copy of your doctor’s orders for surgery or any paperwork given to you by your physician to bring to the hospital;
- Insurance cards and forms;
- Formal ID, such as your California ID card, a student ID, or a driver’s license;
- A parent or legal guardian if you are under age 18;
- A list of all your medications or your medication containers in a brown bag;
- A case or box with your name on it for personal items that you remove, such as dentures, glasses, or hearing aid.
Where to Park and Register
- Park in the parking lot;
- Present to the admitting department [right off the lobby] to complete the registration process;
- You will be escorted to the outpatient area or to a patient room;
- Present all the paperwork your doctor has given to you;
- You will complete some paperwork that is required by the hospital and will present your identification.
Marking the Surgical Site
If you are scheduled for a procedure that involves a right or left side, or a certain level, for example, on your spine, the members of the surgical team will ask you to participate in marking or validating the site. This is done to help prevent the wrong procedure being performed on the wrong patient.
Additional Preparation for the Procedure
It is not uncommon to have an intravenous line [IV] line started to assure that you are getting some fluids or medications during the procedure. We also take your blood pressure and other vital signs in order to establish a baseline. Please tell the nurse if you feel unduly apprehensive about the procedures
After the Procedure
- You will be taken to the recovery room where we will continue to monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing;
- You may feel some nausea after the procedure; advise the nurse and he/she may be able to provide you with a medication that relieves the nausea;
- If you had an airway or tube placed in your windpipe during the procedure you may have a bit of a sore throat;
- When the anesthesia wears off you may experience some pain or discomfort; don’t hesitate to ask for pain medication;
- You may have a small tube [catheter] in your bladder to drain urine and it will be removed based on your physician’s order;
- Call the nurse prior to attempting to get out of bed. It is not uncommon to feel unsteady on your feet or to experience some dizziness.
Discharge from the Hospital
- You will be discharged when the doctor feels that you are ready or you meet certain criteria;
- You will be provided written discharge instructions; make sure you understand them fully before you leave;
- Feel free to ask any questions you may have.
Be Sure About:
- Medications that are prescribed for you;
- Stitches, staples, or incision care;
- Bathing and showering;
- What to eat;
- Physical activity, including housework;
- When to resume sexual relations.
Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following signs or symptoms:
- Unrelieved or prolonged pain;
- Pain, redness, heat, or oozing from your suture, staple, or incision line;
- Undue nausea or vomiting;
- Any inability to urinate or have a bowel movement.
Go to the nearest emergency room if you have any of the following:
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing;
- Chest pain;
- A separation of the suture line;
- Undue bleeding.