If you decide surgery is right for you, take the following steps to improve your chances of a successful surgery and full recovery:
- Make sure your surgeon, other doctors, and nurses know about the prescription medicines, supplements, and over-the-counter medications you take and any allergies you have. Bring a list of your medicines with you to your visits before the operation and on the day of your surgery. Once you’re home, make sure you understand what medicines you are—or aren’t—supposed to take and for how long. Do not assume that if you have already answered the questions once that the information has been shared with all members of your health care team.
- Ask about potential complications with your surgery. It’s important to know what to look for and whom to call if problems arise. In addition, ask if you should schedule follow-up appointments—such as physical therapy—before surgery.
Research shows that patients who ask questions and are informed about their surgeries typically work better with their doctors in making the best decisions about their care. Being prepared before having surgery will help ensure that you have a smooth recovery.
I’m Dr. Carolyn Clancy, and that’s my advice on how to navigate the health care system.
Carolyn M. Clancy, a general internist and researcher, is an expert in engaging consumers in their health care. She is the director of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.