Patient FAQs

Before Surgery

1. Will I be contacted prior to my surgery by the facility?

Yes. You may receive up to three calls. You will be contacted a few days prior to surgery by a member of your health care team. This call will include a routine health assessment, instructions for the day of surgery and answers to any questions you may have. You may also be contacted by someone in our business office to address financial matters such as your responsibility for co-payments and deductibles. Finally, you may also be contacted by your anesthesiologist.

  • 1. You will be provided 4% Chlorhexidine Gluconate antiseptic solution. Please follow the instructions given you at your Pre-Admission Testing visit. This is very important in the prevention of a surgical site infection.
  • 2. Sleep on clean sheets the night before surgery.
  • 3. If you have a pet, DO NOT allow the animal to sleep with you.
  • 4. Your skin will be cleaned with the same type of solution when you arrive the morning of your surgery.

You also may receive a nasal culture during your Pre-Admission testing visit. Should your culture return positive for MRSA, you will receive a call from us. At this point you will be given other instructions which we ask that you follow. This is also very important in the prevention of a surgical infection.6. Please bring all prescription medication in the original bottles to the hospital on the day of your surgery. If medications are not in original bottles, your surgery may be cancelled.

2. What tests are required prior to my surgery?

Any pre-operative tests will be determined by your physician or anesthesiologist and communicated to you prior to the date of your surgery.

3. What should I bring?

  • 1. Please bring a photo identification and your insurance card(s). Our staff will need to verify and make copies when you check-in on the day of your surgery.
  • 2. Be sure to bring any medications that you may need during your stay at the facility (e.g., inhaler or insulin).
  • 3. Please bring a list of all drugs you are currently taking.
  • 4. Please bring payment of any patient responsibility (e.g. co-payment or deductible)
  • 5. Please do not bring rings, watches, or other valuables.

4. Should I arrange a ride to the facility?

Yes. You will not be allowed to drive after surgery. Please arrange for an adult to drive you home and for someone to be with you when you arrive.

5. What may I eat and drink before surgery?

Your physician or a pre-operative nurse will inform you of eating and drinking restrictions prior to surgery. It is very important that you follow the provided instructions. If you do not, your surgery may be delayed or cancelled.

6. Should I take my routine medications on the day of surgery?

You will be given instructions regarding medications by your physician or a staff member. Also, as noted above, please be prepared to list all medications (including name and dose) you are taking and to bring any with you that may be needed during your stay (e.g., inhaler or insulin).

7. What can I do to help ensure that I have the proper procedure on the correct surgical site?

Your safety is our primary concern. Your entire health care team will follow rigorous guidelines regarding site identification and procedure confirmation. National Patient Safety Goals have been developed which require your involvement too. You will be asked numerous times to confirm both the procedure you are having and the surgical site. You should take a very active role in all discussions with your physician, your anesthesia provider and our staff regarding the identification of your procedure and the correct surgical site. In most cases, your surgeon will mark the site prior to your procedure.

8. What if I think I might be pregnant?

Please be sure to notify your physician, anesthesiologist and nurse prior to the date of surgery if you think you may be pregnant. The surgical procedure, anesthesia and medications may be harmful to a developing baby.


Day of Surgery

9. What will happen when I first arrive at the facility?

When you arrive at the facility, you will be checked-in by a member of our staff. The admission process is usually very quick as we have obtained most of your information prior to your arrival. This final check allows us to verify all of your key information so we can better serve you.

10. What should I wear?

For your comfort, we encourage you to wear clothing that can be easily removed and stored. Please avoid wearing any jewelry, piercings, nail polish and cosmetics, and leave contact lenses at home or bring your lens case with you.

11. What should I do with my clothes and additional belongings?

A nurse will escort you into the pre-operative area where you will change your clothes. Your belongings will be safely stored until you are ready to go home. We recommend that you leave all valuables and additional accessories at home.

12. What happens after I check-in?

A nurse will conduct a pre-operative assessment that will include taking your vital signs and starting an IV if it is required for your procedure. The anesthesia provider will also speak with you in the pre-operative area to review all pre-operative information and discuss your anesthesia. Our staff will keep your family and friends informed of your progress. We understand the anxiety family and friends will have while you are having your procedure. We will make every effort to keep them informed of your progress and when they will be able to re-join you after the procedure.

13. Will I see my physician prior to surgery?

Yes. The nature of most procedures require that you and your physician confirm both the specific type of procedure you are having as well as the surgical site of that procedure.

14. How long can my family stay with me prior to my procedure?

This will depend upon a number of factors. However, we believe that familiar faces can assist in reducing your anxiety about the procedure, so please do not hesitate to inform the nurse that you would like a friend or family member to sit with you.

15. When should I arrive?

You will receive instructions regarding arrival time during your pre-operative phone call. It is important that you arrive at the designated time.

16. Can I smoke?

No. We advise against smoking on the day of your procedure. Smoking may interfere with the anesthesia and frequently produces nausea during the recovery period. The Hospital for Spinal Surgery is a smoke-free facility.


Anesthesia

17. Are there different kinds of sedation or anesthesia?

Yes. Regardless of the type of sedation or anesthesia that you receive, special anesthetic agents and techniques are used to provide a safe and speedy recovery. If there are alternative choices available for your surgery, and often there are, your physician or anesthesia provider will discuss them with you before surgery. Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will determine the type of anesthesia for you based on your medical history and scheduled procedure.

18. May I request the type of anesthesia I will receive?

Depending on the type of surgery, there may be anesthetic options. Your physician or anesthesia provider will discuss available options with you after reviewing your medical history.

19. Will I receive any sedatives before surgery?

Together, you, your surgeon and your anesthesia provider will develop an anesthetic care plan. This plan may include preoperative sedation and other medications if necessary.

20. What are the risks of anesthesia?

All surgical procedures and all anesthetics have risks. These risks are dependent upon many factors, including the type of surgery and the medical condition of the patient. Your anesthesiologist will assess you preoperatively and every precaution will be taken to minimize your risk. We routinely see minor symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, sore throat, dizziness, tiredness, headache, muscle aches and pain, most of which are easily treated. Please feel free to discuss any questions with your anesthesia provider.

21. Will I be billed separately by the anesthesiologist?

Yes. You will receive a separate bill from your anesthesia provider if anesthesia was administered.

22. Why must I refrain from eating and/or drinking prior to surgery?

It is important to refrain from eating and/or drinking prior to surgery in order to prevent the risks of aspirating gastric contents (complication related to vomiting) during your surgery. This complication may be very serious. Specific instructions based on national safety standards will be provided to you prior to your procedure. It is very important that you follow the provided instructions. If you do not, your surgery may be delayed or cancelled.


After Surgery

23. How long will I stay after my surgery?

The amount of recovery time varies from patient to patient. After your procedure, a nurse will monitor your vital signs and make sure you are alert and stable. You will be sent home as soon as your health care team feels it is safe to discharge you from the facility.

24. What will happen if I am not well enough to go home?

The Hospital for Spinal Surgery is an Acute Care Hospital. We are staffed 24hrs daily Monday through Friday. In the event your Surgeon decides you need to stay overnight we will accommodate your needs.

25. What if I am not feeling well once I get home?

If you are in serious pain, or exhibit warning symptoms described in your discharge instructions, please call your physician, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.

26. What can I eat when I get home?

Your surgeon may have specific recommendations for your post operative diet. We generally suggest that you eat lightly after surgery, and strongly encourage you to drink plenty of fluids. You should avoid alcoholic beverages.

27. What can I do to help prevent a post operative infection?

In addition to following the recommendations above, follow your post operative instructions carefully and notify your physician if you have any signs or symptoms which concern you.

28. How will my pain be managed?

The management of your pain is of great importance to us. We will be assessing your level of pain from the time of admission until you receive our post operative call at home. During your stay at the facility, you will be repeatedly asked to rate your pain using a numerical scale (1-10), or for children, the "Faces Pain Scale" (shown below).



We will often use a combination of different modalities to help make you comfortable – choosing from oral medications, intravenous medications, nerve blocks, injection of local anesthetic during the surgery, etc. Prior to the surgery, the management of your pain should be discussed with both your anesthesiologist and surgeon. Please feel free to bring up any concerns or fears you may have. Remember that information on pain management gives you the appropriate expectations and hence a smoother, more comfortable recovery.

It is important to follow instructions regarding your post operative pain medication closely. Many pain medications take 20 to 30 minutes to begin to work. For best results, the pain medication should be taken before the pain becomes too strong.

29. Can my family be with me after surgery?

Yes. After surgery, you will be taken to a recovery area. A nurse will monitor your vital signs and make sure you are comfortable as the anesthesia begins to wear off. Once you are awake and alert, your family will be invited back to the recovery area.

30. May I drive home?

No. Patients will not be allowed to drive after a procedure and must make necessary transportation arrangements. If you plan to walk or take public transportation from our facility after a procedure, please make sure you are accompanied by a responsible adult.

31. Should I continue my usual medications after surgery?

Most patients should continue their usual medications after surgery. Patients who have diabetes and those patients on blood thinners may require some adjustment of their medications. These instructions will be clarified with you before you leave the facility. If you have any questions, please call your surgeon or primary care physician.

Related Links