Checklist for Surgery

by AgingandDisability

It’s important that you become an informed patient so that you can advocate for yourself during your hospital stay. A checklist can help protect you against medical errors.

Illness and injury are part of the human experience, but when you add the mistakes and errors that can happen during a hospital stay – well, the combination can be deadly. It’s critical that you become advocate for yourself during your hospital stay.

By you, I mean you, your friends, and family. They know what you’re like when you’re well, what medications you take, and more importantly what medications you don’t take. Making a checklist for surgery will help them protect you against a medical error.

Checklist for Surgery

Preparing for Surgery Checklist

Patient's Checklist

Start by becoming an informed patient. Ask as many questions as possible about every aspect of your procedure and hospital stay.  Refer to your checklist and don't be afraid to revise it. 

  • Designate a health-care proxy. Forms are available at every hospital, and you are not giving away your rights by doing this. This person will have the legal right to access your medical records and make decisions for you based on your preferences in case of an emergency.
  • Tell your doctor about every prescription, herbal remedy, and over-the-counter medication you take.  To simplify things, put them all in a plastic bag and take them to your pre-surgery appointment. If you don’t inform your doctor, there is the risk that one of them might interact with a prescribed medication.
  •  Find out all the details of your surgery. If possible, take someone with you when you meet with your doctor so they can take notes too. Two heads are better than one. Ask questions about – 
    • Risks, benefits, and alternatives
    • How long will the surgery last?
    • How long will the recovery period be?
    • What medications will be used? 
    •  Do not schedule surgery during the month of July – that’s when new interns and residents start their rotations. Also, try to have it done early in the morning and early in the week when hospitals are fully staffed.
    •  Ask your doctor about pain management now. Fill any prescription for pain medicine before surgery. You don’t want to be standing in line at the pharmacy in pain. Make sure there is no confusion about dosage.  

Preparing for Surgery Binder

Preparing For Surgery Binder

Conditions That May Require Surgery

Dealing with Acoustic Neuroma
Shortly after being diagnosed with acoustic neuroma, the next step that patients must face is to weigh out all of the options that are available to them.

Women and Heart Disease
In the past, women were not always included in large research studies about heart disease, and this is believed to be the reason that death rates for men are improving faster than those for women.

Cervical Cancer Treatment Options
The most common choices of treatment for cervical cancer is to undergo a hysterectomy. This procedure involves the removal of the uterus.


Patient Safety Guides

Don’t Be a Passive Patient

Did you know, on average, a hospital patient is subject to one medication error a day? What will you do if the pain medicine isn’t working or the nurse tries to give you a medication you know you’re allergic to?  

Don’t fall into the trap of being a passive patient.  Be proactive and ready to question anything. You may find you’re allowed more pain medication, but the doctor didn’t mention it to you. Communication errors happen all the time in hospitals.

There are several things you should do before, during, and after your hospital stay. This list is in no way exhaustive, but is meant to give you a starting point toward becoming an informed patient.  

If you’re nervous about an upcoming medical procedure, redirect that nervous energy in a proactive way. You can begin by reading The Informed Patient, an ebook which spells out everything you need to know to avoid medical errors during your upcoming hospital stay.

 Should you not find it helpful, there’s a 60-day 100% money-back guarantee so you have nothing to lose. Download it directly to your computer by clicking the link above.

Updated: 11/25/2022, AgingandDisability
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AgingandDisability on 10/08/2022

@DerdriuMarriner I hadn't heard of that warning about buying cars. It's news to me.

DerdriuMarriner on 10/07/2022

The next-to-last bulletted point under the subheading Preparing for surgery checklist indicates that "Do not schedule surgery during the month of July – that’s when new interns and residents start their rotations. Also, try to have it done early in the morning and early in the week when hospitals are fully staffed."

It makes me think of the anecdotal, folksy, traditional precaution -- based, baseless? -- against buying cars manufactured on Mondays and Fridays. Would that precaution apply to the above in terms of Friday (but not Monday since you suggest "early in the morning and early in the week when hospitals are fully staffed")?

AgingandDisability on 09/23/2014

@Telesto Thanks for commenting!

Telesto on 09/23/2014

Very good advice, thank you.

AgingandDisability on 06/23/2012

@Tolovaj Thank you - appreciate your support!

Tolovaj on 06/23/2012

These are some very practical tips and I can confirm July is not a good month for surgery because i have been there, although got very good and experienced surgeon. My problem was hot weather and air condition not working.

About pain prescriptions... It is good to talk about the options with your doctor AND make some investigations on yourself. I got wrong pain treatment and this delayed my rehabilitation for several weeks. Nothing tragic but necessary delay for sure.

Thanks for your checklist!

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