Surgery is scary for everyone. There is always the risk that something serious could go wrong, resulting in serious harm or death. That being said, surgery is a necessary, often life-saving, procedure. The good news is that you can improve your surgical outcome by doing some homework before you schedule your procedure. Unfortunately, the risk for medical errors during surgery is real, including wrong site surgery, items left in the patient, introduction of infections, and the wrong procedure being performed. How can you improve your surgical outcome? Read on for some important tips.
A recent study found that patients do better when nurses have better working environments. The study found that “hospitals with well-staffed, top-notch nursing departments had fewer deaths after surgery than hospitals without those high-quality nursing environments.”
According to the article, good nursing environments have more than 1 nurse for every hospital bed, as well as having “Magnet Status”, a special accreditation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The study found that being in a hospital with a good nursing environment reduced the odds by nearly 50% of a patient needing to be placed in the ICU.
Find a hospital in your area with Magnet Status here.
The Right Doctor and Hospital
It is important to find a surgeon who is competent and experienced in your particular surgery. Conduct online research to learn about a potential doctor’s qualifications – find a list of sites on the Zaggo Resource Center. Additionally, you should ask your potential surgeon the following questions:
- Is he/she Board Certified in Surgery?
- Does he/she have a F.A.C.S. (Fellows of the American College of Surgeons) designation ?
- How many operations similar to yours has the doctor performed in his/her career? How many/year? Try to find a doctor who has performed your particular procedure hundreds of times, if possible.
Additionally, it is equally important to investigate any hospital you might use. First, find out if the hospital accredited by the Joint Commission, a sign of a “gold standard” You can look up your hospital here.
Additionally, ask the surgeon the following questions about your hospital:
- Does your hospital enforce the use of surgical checklists?
- How often do surgeons perform your particular procedure at this hospital?
- What hand hygiene and other infection control programs are in place?
- If you will be hospitalized after the surgery, will you be placed on a floor that specializes in your condition? How to ensure that will take place?
Reducing Your Risk of Infections
Surgical site infections are the 2nd most common type of adverse event that happens to hospitalized patients. Follow these steps to reduce your risk:
- Ask your doctor if he/she recommends antibiotics before the surgery.
- Follow pre-surgical instructions very carefully, including prepping the area.
- If you have hair in the surgical site, do not shave. Be sure staff shortens hair with clippers or removes it with a depilatory.
- Ask for a blanket for the pre-surgical waiting period. Staying warm can reduce the risk of infections.
- Be sure everyone, all visitors and the medical team, wash their hands before touching the patient, or touching any hard surface the patient may touch. If you do not see your doctors and other medical staff washing their hands, speak up!
- The patient should wash his/her hands regularly.
- Follow post-surgical instructions very carefully.
- Learn more at Safe Care Campaign.
Best Times for Your Surgery
When you have your surgery can impact your outcome. A Newsmax Health article suggests the following time considerations for surgery:
- Schedule your procedure for Monday or Tuesday if possible. Avoid Thursdays, Fridays and weekends.
- Schedule your surgery for early in the day when outcomes; research has shown nighttime surgeries have more risks.
- Avoid surgery on major holidays, including the week between Christmas and New Years, when staffing levels are low.
For more information on this topic, read my post: What is the Best Time of Day for Medical Care?
Surgery is serious. Your life might be at stake. Educate yourself to reduce your risk of complications and issues. For more information and tips related to surgery, read these posts:
For more information on reducing the risk of surgical complications and harm, read these blog posts:
- Questions to Ask Before Surgery.
- Questions Seniors Should Ask Before Surgery.
- Surgical Dangers – What You Need to Know.
- What is the Best Time of Day for Medical Care?
- Recover Faster After Surgery.
- How Safe are Surgery Centers?