Ignorance may be bliss when it comes to certain things, but your health isn’t one of them.
In fact, the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care has published guidelines for what patients should know before going into surgery.
There are three reasons for collecting as much information as possible. The first is that you want to be sure you’re making the right decision for your specific situation. For example, is there a new medication that might alleviate your pain and make back surgery unnecessary?
Secondly, you want to reduce your pre-surgery anxiety as much as possible—and knowledge is a powerful tool in accomplishing that.
Lastly, you’ll want to be prepared when you come home from the hospital. Will you need to have a bed available on the first floor? How long till you will be able to drive?
Research shows that many people enter into surgery without having all of their concerns addressed. It’s your right to have your questions answered by your doctor—and it will likely make you feel more comfortable once you do.
With that in mind, here are 14 questions to ask before surgery:
• Why is the surgery needed? As basic as this question may seem, it’s a good starting point for launching a conversation about your surgery.
• Are there any alternatives? Are there any medications or even alternative treatments that could be used to improve your condition?
• What will happen if I don’t get the surgery? Do you have to have the surgery immediately—or can you wait? What is the likely outcome if you decide not to have the surgery?
• What will my recovery be like? How long until you’ll be able to return to work or drive a car? How limited will your mobility be? How should you expect to feel?
• Should I get a second opinion? Getting a second opinion can help put you at ease that you’re making the right decision—or it might bring up concerns not previously addressed.
• How long will I be in the hospital? What is the shortest possible stay—and what does your doctor see as the longest stay you might face?
• When, and for how long, will visitors be allowed? Knowing this information will also help your friends and family members plan their visits.
• What are the benefits of my surgery and how long will they last? What exactly are the possible benefits of the surgery you’ll be having—and how likely is it that you will experience those benefits?
• What are the risks of my surgery? All surgeries have risks. Ask what they are for your specific procedure.
• What is your surgeon’s experience in this type of surgery? Knowing your surgeon’s level of expertise is one factor that may reduce your anxiety leading up to the date of your surgery.
• What type of anesthesia will I receive? Can the procedure be performed under local or regional anesthesia?
• What are the costs of this procedure and is it covered by insurance? This is likely a question for the staff at your doctor’s office. In some cases, you may also need to call your insurance company. Ask about physician's fees, associated costs, hospital services, rehabilitation programs and pain medications.
• How is pain treated after the operation? Will you need pain medication? If so, for how long—and what kind does your doctor suggest? Any issues with addiction should also be discussed at this time.
• How do I prepare for the surgery, both physically and mentally? What should you be eating and drinking in the days leading up to surgery? Will you still be able to have the surgery if you develop a cold or catch a virus? Are there any medications you should avoid?
Surgery is not high on anyone’s list of fun things to do, but properly preparing for your procedure is likely to reduce your anxiety and make you feel more at ease. Contact us today if there’s a medical concern you’ve been putting off.