Now that You Decided to Have the Surgery. . .This is not a final list,  you are encouraged to add to this list

Preparing for Surgery

Have at all times, up until surgery starts:

  • Your medication lists from home (Don’t expect list to follow you around a hospital)
  • Your medical history
  • Doctors’ names and phone numbers and how to reach them after surgery
  • Your healthcare proxy/surrogate information. Be sure this is available for all staff.
  • Choose your advocate and/or support team and share with them what you want them to do. Discuss expectations from both sides.

Questions to Ask

  • Will the doctor you have chosen be doing the surgery from beginning to end – or will resident physicians be doing some part of the surgery/procedure? Decide if that matters to you
  • Does your surgeon work regularly with the team that will be part of your surgery/procedure? (You may want to find out if they all accept your insurance ahead of time.)
  • Who will be in charge of overseeing care (surgeon/oncologist/hospitalist)?
  • Before your surgery, while you are thinking clearly, ask what pain medications and antibiotics will be prescribed. Know this before surgery (get generic names of all medications including antibiotics).
  • Will you be getting antibiotics immediately before surgery as suggested to help avoid infection?
  • Will family be involved in your care? Be sure you have a healthcare proxy form completed (see
  • Will you be expected to go to ICU, or to a regular room?
  • How long are you expected to be in the hospital?
  • Are there plans for rehab? Rehab may unexpectedly become necessary because of complications following surgery, so knowing what is available is helpful.
  • When will the surgeon see you again after surgery (immediately, next day)?
  • Who is available after surgery if you can’t reach the surgeon?
  • Does the anesthesiologist have experience in that facility with that doctor? Be sure you have a medication and medical condition list for them, especially if you have sleep apnea or asthma.

For the Patient and /or Support Team:

  • Get name of nurse in charge and the patient representative or advocate in case it’s needed later.
  • Get business card and/or name of any doctor or person treating the patient.
  • Anyone who enters the room must identify themselves and say why they are there when entering.
  • Everyone must check arm band and ask name and birthday before treating patient.
  • Anyone touching patient must wash, or use antibacterial cleaner even if they did before entering. You have a right to ask to see them do it.
  • Patient or guest should clean bedrail, call bell, TV remote, phone, tables and all surfaces with antibacterial wipes. (Wear gloves when cleaning.)
  • Know what medications are going into IV. Look at bag for patient name, dosage and medication name. Is this what the doctor said the patient would get?
  • No medications should be in unmarked cups when offered to patient. medication should be in its original wrapper so you can see what medication you are getting.
  • Ask for printout of all medications doctor ordered, and keep at bedside.
  • Keep notes of all questions that come to mind and anyone who gives out information. Use a notebook or even index cards clipped together.
  • What is the setup in the patient’s home? Are there stairs to get into the home, can the patient get into their home or tub or bathe themselves?  Will they need help making meals or daily chores?


Helpful Websites:

Find a Doctor

Medicare Hospital Compare

Medicare Nursing Home Compare


Helpful Articles

Why you should avoid afternoon surgery

Are Fridays really the riskiest days for elective surgery?

6 Tips to Prepare for Surgery

10 Ways to Prepare for Surgery