Preparing for Surgery

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How to prepare for your surgery

Do I need to see any other doctor before my surgery?

  • You will need to see your primary care doctor to have your preoperative laboratory tests, history and physical performed within 30 days of your surgery. Please verify with your care coordinator if she/he will schedule the appointment(s).
  • If you are under the care of a cardiologist, pulmonologist, hematologist-oncologist or other medical specialist, please inform your surgeon as additional preoperative evaluations may be necessary from these specialists.

What paperwork needs to be filled out before my surgery?

  • Surgical Informed Consent: You will be asked to sign a surgical consent after you have discussed the benefits, risks and alternatives to your surgery with your surgeon.
  • Blood Transfusion Consent: You will be asked to consent to, or specifically refuse blood transfusions. If you would like to consider donating your own blood for surgery, please discuss this with your surgeon well in advance of your surgery.
  • Advance Health Care Directive: This legal document allows you to appoint an individual to make healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. It also provides an opportunity for you to state your wishes about the medical treatment that you do or do not wish to receive. If you have an advance healthcare directive, please bring a copy with you on the day of your admission.

Do I need to identify a contact person (patient coach) before my surgery?

  • Please designate one family member or trusted friend to serve as your contact person and “coach” throughout the hospital phase of your care. His/her role will be to support you throughout this process, including the preoperative phase of care, the hospitalization and the postoperative phase of care.
  • Your contact person or coach should be present on the day you receive your final discharge information from your healthcare team.

How do I manage my medications before surgery?

  • If you are taking aspirin or other blood-thinning medications, such as Plavix (clopidogrel), Coumadin (warfarin), Pradaxa (dabigatran), Xarelto (rivaroxaban), or Eliquis (apixaban), please contact your surgeon’s office regarding the management of these medications. You may need to stop taking these medications at least seven days before your surgery date. Your surgeon and your primary care physician (PCP) will need to work together for optimal management of blood-thinning medications.
  • If you are taking medications for diabetes, make sure to discuss with your PCP how to manage them prior to your surgery. If you have not received such instructions, please contact your PCP’s office.
  • If you are taking medication for high blood pressure in the afternoon or evening, you should take them as prescribed by your doctor, the day prior to your surgery - but not on the day of your surgery. If you are taking medication for high blood pressure in the morning, continue them as prescribed, with a sip of water.
  • If you are taking medication for seizures in the morning, take them with a small sip of water on the day of your surgery.
  • If you are having surgery for a movement disorder (Parkinson’s disease, tremor, or dystonia), DO NOT take your movement disorder medications after midnight the night before surgery.
  • Discuss with your surgeon the management of herbal medications, supplements and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, Aleve or Motrin, prior to surgery as these can interfere with your surgery.
  • Do not bring medications from home unless specifically instructed.
  • Please complete the Admission Medication History Form prior to your surgery and bring it with you on the day of your surgery. Remember to specify the dose and frequency for each medication, including supplements and herbal medications.

Is there any special skin preparation before surgery?

  • We recommend that you wash your body with chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG), an antiseptic skin-cleanser liquid, five-to-seven days before surgery. One brand of CHG is Hibiclens. If your surgery is in less than five days, please wash with CHG for the remaining days. CHG is not to be used on the head or face. Keep out of eyes, ears, mouth, and the genital area.
  • You do not need to cut your hair before surgery.

When is the last time I can eat or drink before surgery?

  • Do not eat anything (including chewing gum or candy) after midnight the night before surgery. You may have sips of clear liquids (water, Pedialyte or Gatorade ONLY – no other liquids) as needed to take medications until 5 am on the morning of surgery. You may brush your teeth and rinse your mouth, but do not swallow any of the water.

What if English is not my first language?

  • A representative from Interpreter Services is always available at no cost. Please notify the Preoperative Evaluation Center at (310) 319-2219 the day before your surgery if you will need an interpreter.