Guest post by David Liu
Despite millions of people across the world undergoing surgery daily, when it comes to you, the decision to “go under the knife, or not” is a difficult one to make. Regardless of knowing the benefits of the surgery, and advice from medical professionals and loved ones, the decision is yours. And, understanding the risks and benefits prior to surgery is essential.
The doctor handling your surgery can help you make the right decision and also put your mind at ease. While a good doctor will do all he/she can to help you through the process, they will also be open to clarify any doubts you may have. After all, it is your body, and you have the right to know. Asking plenty of questions is a good way to make an informed decision.
Here are 7 areas of questions to ask your doctor before going into the surgery room:
1. How will this surgery help me?
Asking for specifics regarding your surgery will help you focus on the imminent benefits of performing the surgery, rather than focus on the period leading up to it. Possible questions to ask are:
- Will the surgery eliminate future pain in the affected area?
- Will it help me get back to normal?
- Will it make day to day activities easier?
- Is the solution permanent?
- Of the number of people who had this surgery, what percentage experienced the exact benefits expected?
2. What are the alternatives?
Before agreeing to undergo surgery, it is always best to ask your doctor if there are any other alternatives available to you, that can help achieve the same results. Alternatives may include:
- Long-term therapy sessions
- Alternative medicine
- Changes in diet, routine etc.
3. Doctor’s experience
When buying a simple, off-the-shelf product we tend to go into minute details such as who is the manufacturer and where it was produced. Why should a surgeon performing a procedure on you be any different? It helps to ask questions such as:
- For how long have you been performing this surgery?
- Do you perform it regularly?
- What is your success rate like?
- How satisfied have your former patients been? Can I have a couple of references?
- Are you contactable around the clock (or how often)?
Putting your doctor under scrutiny in a professional manner ensures you are signing up for the best possible services, which you deserve.
4. About the surgical procedure.
At this stage, you will be putting to rest all doubts you’ve had about your surgery. Knowing all aspects of the surgery helps you prepare yourself accordingly and also set realistic expectations. The following questions are a must:
- Where is the surgery being conducted?
- Who will be accompanying your doctor/surgeon?
- When is the surgery due?
- What exactly will happen during the procedure?
- What kind of anesthetics will be used given your health history and other medications/supplements you take?
- How long is the surgery?
- Is it a one-off procedure, or will I have to be operated on at a later date?
- What are the side effects?
- Will it leave you worse off than you are now?
- What can go wrong?
5. Financial considerations
A surgery can be an expensive affair and always ensure you have your finances in order well in advance. Note down:
- Total cost of surgery
- What portion will be covered by your insurance? And, how much will you spend out of pocket?
- Cost of follow-up treatments and post-surgery medications
- Cost of staying in hospital after your surgery
6. Preparation leading up to the big day
When the day of surgery arrives, the satisfaction you derive from knowing everything has been thought through is immense. It can help you face the surgery with a brave face. Double check with your doctor about:
- Additional tests you have to take (e.g. blood tests)
- Changes to diet and medication
- Do you have to refrain from eating and drinking before a set number of hours leading to surgery?
- What must you avoid?
7. Post-surgery recovery
What will life be like following surgery? Ask your doctor the following questions to find out:
- How long do you have to remain in the hospital?
- What medication should you be on to speed up recovery?
- How long till complete recovery?
- Will you need special help to recover (i.e. nurse, physiotherapy)
- How long before you can get back to a normal routine?
- Are there any ways to speed up recovery?
Remember, a well-informed patient is significantly more satisfied with the outcome of the surgery as they’ve had a chance to set their expectations accurately. Be open about your reservations and clarify every minute detail. It is the doctor’s responsibility to ensure he/she explains everything clearly, erasing all doubts before you go into the surgery room. Have you ever gone into surgery? What was your experience like?
My name is David Liu and I’m a researcher and writer for Drugwatcher. In a previous life, I briefly worked as a lawyer, but after a short career, I made the switch to pursue my passion for writing. Luckily in my current work, I can combine my passion for law with my second passion, health.
In 1996, I graduated from the University of Amsterdam with a master’s degree in health law. I have been published in several research journals and peer-reviewed publications and I’m a proud father of 2 daughters.