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Patient Education - Surgical Safety

Everyone plays a role in making healthcare safe and that includes doctors, nurses, other healthcare providers and patients.

If you are going to have surgery, you can help increase the safety of your surgical procedure by becoming an active member of your surgical team. Research has shown that patients involved in their care have better results.

Following are some tips to help you become more involved in your surgical care and to help with your safety as a surgical patient.

  • Write down any questions or concerns you have and take them with you to your doctor’s appointment.
  • Ask a family member or friend to come with you to the hospital or medical facility. This person will be your advocate to ensure your safety.
  • Check with your doctor if there are prescribed, over-the-counter or herbal medications you should not take before surgery.
  • Bring a list of all your current prescribed, over-the-counter or herbal medications with you.
  • Ask if you can eat or drink before the procedure.
  • Remove make-up and nail polish (toes and fingers) before surgery.
  • Leave valuables and jewelry at home.


The day of surgery….
You will be asked to sign a consent form asking you what surgery you are having done and if you are aware of the risks involved.

Each person that you meet should ask who you are, what surgeryyou are having, and where you are being operated on, including which side of your body.

Depending on the type of surgery, the doctor or other surgical team member will mark the site for surgery.  This helps to prevent errors. Marking the spot makes sure the correct part and side of the body will be operated on. You should have an active role in this process. Only the spot where surgery is being done should be marked.

Ask your doctor whether a “time out” with the surgical team will be done just before the surgery begins. During the “time out,” the surgical team makes sure that they are doing the correct procedure at the correct site on correct person. This is important for your safety.

After surgery...
On rare occasions, patients may experience periods when they dream, or even remember events during their surgery. If this happens, tell your nurse, surgeon or anesthesiologist.

When you take a medication, ask what it is, what it does, and side effects. If you have any questions or concerns, speak up.

If you are given IV (intravenous) fluids, ask how long it should take for the liquid to run out.

Ask your doctor about what you should do when you go home, like what you should eat and drink, what kind of activity you can do, what medicationyou should take, and when you can drive and go back to work.

Ask questions if you do not understand or if you have special concerns.

To learn more about patient safety, click on the links below.