The decision to have surgery is a very important one. You will need to be fully informed and prepared for the surgery, as well as for any special needs that you may have following the surgery. Your preparation will affect the outcome and the results. The following is a checklist to assist you in your preparation for surgery:
Make a list of questions to ask your doctor or surgeon regarding the type of surgery recommended.
Determine if the surgical procedure is right for you.
Obtain a second opinion, if desired.
Check with your health plan regarding costs and coverage of the upcoming surgery.
Obtain costs from doctors and hospital or outpatient facility.
Schedule the surgery.
Prepare lists of prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, herbal supplements, even illegal substances that you are currently taking (or have recently taken) for doctors; review with the anesthesiologist and surgeons.
Schedule preoperative laboratory tests.
Arrange for preoperative interview with the anesthesiologist.
Follow all instructions during the weeks and days preceding surgery.
Discontinue indicated prescription or over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements prior to surgery, as directed by your surgeon or doctor.
Arrange for necessary home care and equipment following surgery.
Sign all informed consent, and other legal forms, before surgery.
Quit smoking to help in your recovery process.
Prior to surgery, you will receive a careful explanation of the procedure, its purpose, any risks, and the expected outcome. You may also be asked to sign an "informed consent" form, which states in detail that you understand everything involved with your surgery. You should read through the consent carefully before signing it. If you have any questions or need more information, ask your doctor.
In certain surgeries, where significant risks are involved, hospital staff may encourage you to prepare "advance directives." Advance directives are legal documents that state a patient's preference in treatment and resuscitation--if the patient is unable to speak for himself or herself. There are two types of advance directives:
Living will. This document states a patient's wishes in the withholding or withdrawing of life support, if the patient suffers from an incurable and terminal condition and cannot make decisions about his or her treatment.
Durable power of attorney for health care. This document designates another person to make health care decisions if the patient is no longer able to make them. This designated person, called an attorney-in-fact, also has the power to make the final decision about cessation of treatment.
Parental consent is required for any diagnostic procedure or surgery on a preadolescent or minor child. However, "emancipated" or "mature" adolescents may consent to their own medical care. Laws may vary from state to state and it is important to know your own state's law about emancipated and mature minors. Typically, an emancipated or mature minor is someone who meets any of the following criteria:
Attends college away from home
Has a child
Is in the military service
Sometimes an adult patient cannot make decisions (temporarily or permanently) about medical care, either because of accidental unconsciousness, confusion due to old age, or severe illness. In those instances, a family member or the patient's attorney-in-fact will be asked to make any necessary medical decisions.
After a patient is diagnosed and surgery is recommended, most insurance companies require "precertification" from the doctor's office before allowing a patient to undergo the procedure. Please check with your insurance carrier on the appropriate steps to take. Some insurance companies also require patients to pay a copayment for the hospital stay.