Millions of people undergo a range of medical operations each year. All surgeries have associated risks and benefits, so it is important to be informed about the procedure being recommended by your medical practitioner before deciding if the operation is right for you.
Below are three things that you should discuss with your surgeon prior to surgery. Ask your doctor to explain the answers clearly and be sure to ask for clarification on anything you do not fully understand.
Remember, a well-informed patient is more likely to be satisfied with the results of the procedure.
- What are my alternatives to this procedure? Are there other treatment options available based on my current medical condition?
Ask your doctor to explain why this procedure is recommended for you, and understand how it may improve your medical condition. In some cases, medication or nonsurgical treatments, such as lifestyle changes, may be as helpful in improving your condition as surgery. Your doctor should be able to clearly explain all of the benefits and risks associated with each of these options so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not surgery is necessary at this time. Some doctors may recommend “watchful waiting” in which the doctor will closely monitor your condition to observe any changes or progression of a disease. If during this period of “watchful waiting” your condition improves or stabilizes, surgery may no longer be required; however, it may be determined that surgery is still your best option.
- What are the benefits and risks associated with having the operation?
It is important that your doctor outline the benefits associated with the procedure and specifically how your condition might improve from this operation. You should also ask how long the benefits typically last—some benefits may only last a short time and require additional surgeries down the line, while others may last a lifetime. Asking about the outcomes of the recommended procedure will allow you to make an informed decision and to have realistic expectations about the outcome.
All procedures, whether minor out-patient operations or major emergency surgeries, carry some risks, so it is extremely important to weigh the benefits and risks prior to surgery. Ask your doctor to outline the possible complications, including infection and bleeding, as well as possible side effects that could follow the surgical procedure. Be sure to discuss which symptoms require you to notify your doctor or seek immediate medical attention for complications. You should also discuss expected pain and ways to effectively manage any pain that may follow the procedure.
- What should I expect during recovery?
It is important to ask your doctor what to expect in the first few days following surgery, as well as the weeks and months to follow. You should ask how long you can expect to be hospitalized, if at all; what limitations will be placed on you; and if there are any special supplies or equipment you will need following your discharge. Knowing what you can expect during recovery prior to your surgery can help you to better prepare and recover more quickly.
South Louisiana Medical Associates offers care for 25 specialties so you can easily manage your health care with a provider you trust. We believe you should be comfortable communicating your feelings, questions and concerns with your doctor prior to having surgery. Addressing the questions above, and any other concerns you may have, with your surgeon prior to your operation will help you to make an informed decision about whether or not the recommended procedure is right for you.
For more information about SLMA’s focused and personalized care, please visit one of our three facilities or our website at www.slma.cc.