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Preparing for Your Medical Procedure or Surgery

You have an important role in making your medical procedure or surgery a success. Being well-prepared can help ease your anxiety, prevent complications and lead to better outcomes. These are some steps you can take:

Ask Questions and Educate Yourself

  • Why do you need this procedure or surgery? Seek a second opinion if you are unsure about the best treatment for your condition. 
  • How is the procedure or surgery done?
  • Did you get specific instructions, such as not eating or drinking, getting tests or stopping or starting medicines?
  • Will you need assistance or special equipment after the procedure or surgery?

Get to Know the Medical Team and Facility

  • Meet your medical team and ask questions. Describe your medical history, current medicines, allergies and past reactions to anesthesia.
  • Who will perform the procedure or surgery? What are the doctor’s credentials? Is he or she trained or certified for that procedure or specialty? How many procedures has he or she done? What were the outcomes?
  • The Joint Commission visits facilities to make sure safety and quality standards are met. Is the facility accredited? To find out, go to www.qualitycheck.org. 
  • What patient care services are available? Facilities with a wide range of services are better at handling complex medical situations after a procedure or surgery.
  • What are the facility’s outcomes? Patient care and patient safety information may be listed on the facility’s website.

Day of the Procedure or Surgery

  • Staff should check your identification before the check-in or preparation of the procedure or surgery.
  • Ask the surgeon to mark the operative site before starting. Only the correct part should be marked. 
  • If the site cannot be marked, review the procedure with your surgeon.

Informed Consent and Advance Directives

  • You will be asked to sign an Informed Consent Form. It lists your name, procedure or surgery, and possible risks. Make sure it is correct. Discuss updated medical information or questions with your doctor.
  • You can give directions about your wishes for your care. If you have a durable power of attorney for health care or living will, bring a copy.

Choose an Advocate

  • Ask a family member or person who you trust to be involved in your care.