The decision to have surgery is a very important one. You will need to be fully informed and prepared for the surgery. You will also need to be ready for any special needs that you may have after the surgery. How well you prepare will affect the outcome and the results. The following checklist can help you get ready for surgery.
Make a list of questions to ask your healthcare provider or surgeon about the type of surgery you are to have.
Bring a trusted family member or friend with you to any visits before surgery. This person can help make sure all your questions get asked and answered. They also can give you emotional support.
Talk with your provider to find out if the surgery is right for you, if you have other surgical options, and the likely outcome if you did not have the surgery.
Get a second opinion if you want to. If you have any concerns, a second opinion can be helpful.
Check with your healthcare plan about what costs of the surgery you will be responsible for.
Get a list of costs from your providers and the hospital or outpatient facility.
Schedule the surgery.
Make a list of all medicines you take. This includes all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, and all herbal supplements. Also include any illegal drugs. Go over this list with the anesthesia provider and surgeons.
Schedule any lab tests you need to have before the surgery.
Meet with the anesthesia provider before the surgery. This may happen on the day of your surgery.
Follow all instructions during the weeks and days before the surgery.
Stop taking any medicines or supplements that your surgeon tells you to before the surgery. Find out when they should be stopped.
Arrange for any home care or equipment you will need at home after the surgery. Your surgeon can tell you what is usually needed.
Sign all informed consents and other legal forms before surgery. Ask any questions you have before you sign.
Quit smoking several weeks before the surgery. This will help you recover faster. It will also help your incision heal more quickly. Reach out to your healthcare team if you need help quitting.
Remove all jewelry before the surgery and leave it at home.
Plan to have an adult drive you to and from your appointment.
The medical staff will carefully explain the surgery to you before you have it. This includes why you are having it, any risks of the surgery, and what you can expect afterward. You will also be asked to sign an informed consent form. It explains the procedure and its risks and benefits. This form states that you understand everything about your surgery and have had the opportunity to ask any questions and receive satisfactory answers. It also explains that you have the right to refuse the procedure. Read through the consent form carefully before signing it. Ask your surgeon if you have any questions or need more information. You will also be asked to sign a consent for anesthesia to be given during your procedure. Talk with your anesthesia provider if you have any questions or concerns.
When you are admitted to the hospital, hospital staff may encourage you to make an "advance directive." Advance directives are legal documents. They state your preference in treatment and resuscitation if you aren’t able to speak for yourself. There are 2 types of advance directives:
Living will. This document gives your wishes about withholding or withdrawing life support if you have an incurable and terminal condition and can’t make decisions about your treatment.
Durable power of attorney for healthcare. This document gives the name of the person who will make decisions for you if you are no longer able to make them. This designated person is called a healthcare proxy. This proxy also has the power to make the final decision about stopping treatment.
A child must have a parent’s consent before any surgery or procedure can be done. But an "emancipated" or "mature" adolescent may consent to their own medical care. Laws may vary from state to state. It's important to know your own state's law about emancipated and mature minors. An emancipated or mature minor is usually someone who:
Attends college away from home
Has a child
Is in the military service
Lives separately from legal guardians or parents and manages their own finances
In some cases, you may not be able make a decision about your medical care. This might be because you are unconscious or because you have a mental disability or severe illness. In that case, a family member or your healthcare proxy will be asked to make any needed medical decisions.
If your healthcare provider recommends elective surgery, your insurance company may ask for "precertification" from your provider before you can have the surgery. Check with your insurance company on what you should do. You may need to pay a copayment for the hospital stay.