10 Questions To Ask Your Doctor Before Surgery

Healthbolt’s got a good list of 10 questions you should ask before undergoing surgical procedure.

Surgeons in American operate under the principle of informed consent. Many times this is treated as a formality by both doctor and patient, but it’s absolutely crucial to our health care system, and taking it for granted can have some nasty results for both parties…here’s what you ought to know and be satisfied with, before the knives and funny-gas come out.

1. What are the indications that have led your doctor to the opinion that an operation is necessary?
2. What, if any, alternative treatments are available for your condition?
3. What will be the likely result if you don’t have the operation?
4. What are the basic procedures involved in the operation?
5. What are the risks?
6. How is the operation expected to improve your health or quality of life?
7. Is hospitalization necessary and, if so, how long can you expect to be hospitalized?
8. What can you expect during your recovery period?
9. When can you expect to resume normal activities?
10. Are there likely to be residual effects from the operation?

Healthbolt has also created a printable pdf if you want to stuff this in your wallet on the way to the hospital. — BEN POPKEN

The 10 Questions You Need to Ask Your Doctor Before Surgery [Healthbolt]

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  1. kerry says:

    Any surgeon worth his salt will address each of these questions during your consultation with him, without prompting. I read charts all day written by surgeons and they all hit these notes like clockwork. If your surgeon (or primary care physician, whoever recommends the surgery) hasn’t addressed this stuff without you asking it’s time to find another healthcare provider.

  2. Plaid Rabbit says:

    I read charts all day written by surgeons and they all hit these notes like clockwork.

    Its because their legal department has more than likely etched those questions into their skulls – this reads like the medical malpractice “breach” element for the Torts class I just took.

    Good advice, but rest assured that if you’re NOT told these things (and you’re conscious), you’ve probably got some serious redress against the surgeon if there’s a problem afterwards.

    (I am not yet a lawyer, consult with legal council before proceeding. This is not legal advice.)

  3. WMeredith says:

    “If your surgeon (or primary care physician, whoever recommends the surgery) hasn’t addressed this stuff without you asking it’s time to find another healthcare provider.” [sic]

    “rest assured that if you’re NOT told these things (and you’re conscious), you’ve probably got some serious redress against the surgeon if there’s a problem afterwards.”

    I think this is why The American College of Surgeons publishes this list.

  4. Ran Kailie says:

    Are there actually people who let others cut them open before asking this stuff? I just had major surgery and I spent 4 years researching and talked to three doctors before I went through with it. Nevermind the alternative therapies, etc.

    Hell beyond my questions (and I brought a LIST) the doctor gave me a huge folder with more information 4 months prior to surgery to review then discussed it with me before surgery the day of.

  5. acambras says:

    I think it’s still nice to have a list. Some of these questions probably seem like no-brainers, but sometimes it’s hard to think straight when you’re not feeling well.

    If a friend or family member were having surgery, I’d urge them to ask these questions, but if I were the one having a medical crisis and had to be my own advocate, I’m not sure I’d remember everything.

  6. formergr says:

    And if you’re having surgery on a limb, don’t hesitate to mark which is the correct one with a big fat Sharpie marker the night before surgery. Something like “This leg!” on the correct limb, and “Wrong side!” on the wrong one is just fine. If you’re worried about offending your surgeon (which you really shouldn’t), throw a smiley face on there or something so it comes off as funny.

    I worked in the operating rooms of a university hospital in college, and they used cute temporary tattoos (the kind you apply with water) of the college logo for this.

  7. phrygian says:

    Are there actually people who let others cut them open before asking this stuff?
    Unfortunately, yes. My grandparents are in their mid-80s and grew up in a time when you didn’t question authority figures. They didn’t start asking the doctors these questions until a few years ago when their daughters pressured them. Who knows how many not-totally-needed surgeries my grandmother has had.

    I agree that doctors should be adressing these questions without prompting, but they’re only human.

  8. Anonymously says:

    Once you’ve determined that you need surgery, choosing the right anesthesiologist is especially important. A disproportionate number of anesthesiologists are drug addicts, and I know I wouldn’t want a drug addict running MY life support.