Questions to ask before surgery
Susan Locke writes that it’s necessary to ask many questions before surgery . . .
Millions of Americans undergo surgery each year. All surgeries have risks and benefits, and the more you familiarize yourself with the procedure, the better.
Smart patients arm themselves with vital information about the surgery, whether it’s an elective surgery or an emergency surgery. Before undergoing any surgical procedure, make sure you understand why the surgery is recommended. Once you have reviewed why surgery is necessary, you should start asking questions prior to undergoing the procedure. Consider taking notes as you may want to compare them with a second opinion.
• What are my alternatives to surgery and what are the outcomes of these alternatives?
• What if I don’t have the surgery?
• Are there different ways to perform the surgery? Could you tell me about the pros and cons of different techniques? Ask about minimally invasive surgical options.
• What are the risks and the complications of the surgery?
• How many of this type of surgery have you done?
• How many of these surgeries are performed by this hospital every year?
• How do your results compare to other surgeons?
• Can surgery be done as an outpatient?
• Where will the surgery be done?
• What pre-operative preparations will be needed?
• Based on the medications/health conditions I have, what adjustments will be necessary. How do I best prepare for the surgery with the medications I take?
• What are the dietary restrictions before or after surgery?
• Can surgery be done under local anesthesia? What type of anesthesia will be used?
• How long will surgery take?
• How long will I be in the hospital?
• What complications are likely based on my history?
• How much pain can I expect and how will it be treated?
• How long will I be in bed?
• Will I need any special adaptations when I return home?
• Will I need any physical therapy?
• When can I drive?
• When will I be able to return to work? Normal activities?
• How long will it take my incision to heal? Will I have a scar?
• Will I need additional treatment for my condition?
• What post-operative symptoms warrant a call to your office?
• Who should I call if I have a problem? How do I reach them?
• How many post-operative appointments will I have?
Prior to surgery, contact your insurance company to confirm whether the surgery will be covered by your policy. Taking an active role in your health or having someone close to you advocate for you is always a good idea.
SUSAN LOCKE, MD, is Healthnetwork Foundation’s medical director.
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