Patient Guide to Safe Surgery

When opting for surgery, we entrust our well-being to skilled medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, and hospital staff. Yet, it’s equally important for patients to comprehend their treatment, as this enhances the hospital experience.

Engage with your caregivers, seek clarity about your condition and treatment plan, and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Consider bringing a family member or a fiend  as a healthcare advocate.

Request identification and clarification of roles from new or unfamiliar caregivers involved in your treatment. Active involvement can contribute to the success of your care.

Preoperative Consultation with Your Surgeon: Checklist

When meeting with your surgeon, utilise the following checklist to furnish essential information about your orthopaedic issue and yourself:

  • Orthopaedic Problem: Detail the onset, impact, and prior treatments attempted for your orthopaedic concern.
  • Medical History: Provide a comprehensive account of past and present medical conditions and their management.
  • Family History: Enumerate familial diseases or health conditions, including surgical or anaesthesia-related issues.
  • Current Medications: Document all medications, including dosages, encompassing prescription and over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements.
  • Allergies and Sensitivities: Catalogue all medication, food, and environmental allergies, alongside any adverse reactions experienced, such as rash or difficulty breathing. Include sensitivities to medications or foods, delineating associated side effects.
  • X-rays, Images, Operative Notes, and Lab Tests: Bring pertinent medical records, operative notes, imaging studies (e.g., x-rays, CT scans, MRI), and laboratory test results, particularly those pertinent to your orthopaedic condition.
  • Questions or Concerns: Compile a list of queries regarding your health and upcoming surgery. Discuss the surgical objectives, procedural details, potential risks, complications, and postoperative recovery plan with your surgeon and surgical team. Understanding these aspects is crucial for informed decision-making and a smooth recovery process.

Before Surgery: Preparation Checklist



When heading to the hospital for surgery, ensure you have the following items:

  • A comprehensive list of all medications, including (OTC) over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and vitamins you are currently taking.
  • Documentation of your drug and food allergies and sensitivities.
  • Your insurance card.
  • Copies of pertinent legal documents include medical proxy, power of attorney, or a living will.
  • Here is the contact information for your primary contact during surgery or the person responsible for picking you up if it’s same-day surgery.
  • A small amount of cash for incidental expenses, avoiding valuables or jewellery.
  • While hospitals typically provide essential amenities like toothbrushes, bedclothes, and slippers, you may prefer to bring personal items such as razors or cosmetics.
  • Ensure you receive an ID band, which uniquely identifies you during your hospital stay. If it comes off, promptly request a replacement.

Before the procedure, your doctor and healthcare team will ask you various questions, including inquiries about drug allergies and confirmation of the surgical site, to ensure patient safety.

 Expect repetition of these questions, as it’s part of the standard protocol.

Critical inquiries may include:
  • Do you have diabetes or do you take diabetic medications?
  • Are you currently on any blood thinners?
  • Do you or any family member have a history of surgical complications or adverse reactions to anaesthesia?
  • Your doctor will also review the surgical procedure with you, have you sign a consent form, and confirm the surgical site by marking it on your skin.

Before entering the operating room, hand over personal items like cell phones, reading glasses and hearing aids to a trusted friend or family member. These belongings can be returned to you upon waking up and during recovery.

After Surgery: Postoperative Guidelines

Remain vigilant about the healthcare you receive, and speak up if anything seems amiss, such as discrepancies in medication.

  • Expect introductions from healthcare workers and ensure they adhere to hand hygiene protocols, a critical measure in infection prevention.
  • You can play an active role in preventing medication errors by confirming your identity before receiving medications and notifying healthcare providers if any regular medications are missed or if there are discrepancies in pill appearance.
  • Avoid taking medications from home to prevent duplication or conflicts with hospital medications.
  • Take precautions to prevent falls, particularly when feeling weak or unsteady due to surgery and postoperative medications.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance with frequent bladder emptying, significantly if medications or IV fluids increase urination frequency.
  • Stay cautious at night, using lights, glasses, and non-skid shoes to minimise fall risks.
  • Ensure visitors practise proper hand hygiene and discourage visits from those who are unwell, particularly children who may carry cold viruses.
  • Advocate for the return of any moved bedside items to ensure accessibility.
  • Request assistance from staff in setting up reachable meal trays and ensuring equipment is positioned correctly.
  • Familiarise yourself with treatment plans and ask questions to clarify the next steps in your care.
  • Remain calm if equipment alarms sound, as they typically indicate routine maintenance tasks such as IV refills.
At Discharge:

Upon discharge, you’ll receive a plethora of instructions, often in written form, detailing critical points including medication lists.

 Given the volume of information, it’s essential to seek clarification if any instructions are unclear.

  • Consider having a family member present to help retain information.
  • Take detailed notes, focusing on essential details such as follow-up appointments, visit schedules for home nurses or therapists, bandage change timelines, bathing allowances, household safety precautions, driving permissions, and postoperative limb elevation and weight-bearing restrictions.
  • Ensure thorough understanding of all prescribed medications, as someone may need to fill prescriptions for you.
  • Familiarise yourself with signs of potential complications, such as infections or blood clots, and know how to promptly contact your healthcare provider if any arise.
  • Be cautious when getting up at night, as medications like sleeping pills and pain relievers can cause unexpected balance issues. Additionally, be mindful of potential dizziness due to postoperative blood loss.
  • Practice safety measures such as pausing at the bedside before walking, using eyeglasses and adequate lighting, removing slippery rugs, and sitting while emptying the bladder to prevent blood pressure drops.


Research underscores the importance of patient involvement in healthcare decisions for improved outcomes. By asking questions, understanding treatment plans, and adhering to instructions, you pave the way for a successful recovery journey.

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