Blog 3/1/2018

Weekly Clinical Service Dose: Be Involved in Your Health Care: When You’re Having Surgery

Are you scheduled to have surgery?

It’s normal to feel worried or even a little scared. Know that your surgeon and other providers will do all they can to take good care of you. And there’s much you can do as a patient to help your health care team keep you safe. Being involved means speaking up, asking questions, and understanding your role.

You Have a Right to Speak Up!
• Do you understand your health problem?
• Do you know what will be done during surgery?
• Is it clear what you need to do to prepare?
• Do you know how to take care of yourself afterward?

Don’t be shy about asking questions. You have a right to know what will happen to you. Knowing this can give you peace of mind. It can also help make sure you get the best care possible.

Having an advocate can help with this. This is a family member or friend or Advocacy service who can help you asks questions, and helps make sure that things go smoothly.

Know How to Prepare for Surgery

Write down any questions you have about the procedure to ask your provider about:
• Confirm what the surgery is called and what it’s for.
• List out all medications, supplements, and herbs you take. Ask if you should stop taking any of them before your procedure. Be sure to include anything you have been prescribed, as well as medications, herbs, and supplements you buy over the counter.
• Ask whether you need special supplies or equipment to help with your recovery. This includes things like crutches or a walker.
• Ask whether you should stop eating and drinking before surgery, and for how long.

Before Surgery: Continue to Ask Questions

At the health care facility, be sure to check the following:

• Your informed consent forms. You’ll be given this form to sign. It will tell you about the procedure you are scheduled for. It will outline the risks of the procedure.
• Read it carefully before you sign it.
• Ask questions if there is something you don’t understand. And double-check the details on the form. Be sure that your personal information, the type of surgery you’re having, and the exact site of surgery on your body are correct.
• Your signature on this form confirms that all your questions about the surgery have been answered. If you have questions, ask them before signing the form.

Know What to Do After Surgery

When your surgery is done, you’ll recover in the health care facility or be released to go home. Help make sure your recovery goes well. Be sure you know:

• When to call your doctor. For instance, you should call if you have signs of infection, such as fever.
• Find out what other symptoms should prompt a call to your doctor.
• How to take your medications. Ask about any medications prescribed for you.
• How to manage pain. If you have pain, talk to your doctor. Learn what you can do to manage it.
• How to take care of your surgery site. If you have a bandage, ask how to care for it and when you can remove it. Ask when you can take a shower or bathe again.
• What follow-up care you need. Ask when you should have a follow-up visit with your surgeon or other provider.

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