6 tips for a safe outpatient surgery experience
(BPT) – Nearly two-thirds of surgeries today are performed at outpatient facilities, meaning you don’t need to pack an overnight bag. But just as if you were having the procedure in the hospital you will likely need anesthesia, and should plan ahead to have a safe and successful experience.
Several things can increase the likelihood of having a good result, whether you’re having a mole removed, a hernia repaired or a knee replaced, notes Dr. J.P. Abenstein, president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). “Prior to surgery, you should be as healthy as possible and closely follow pre-operative directions,” says Abenstein. “Be sure that the center where your surgery is taking place and the surgeon and other health professionals in charge of your care are qualified.”
Physician anesthesiologists play a very important role in patient safety throughout the process, by meeting with you before surgery no matter where you are having the procedure, closely monitoring your anesthesia and vital body functions during the operation and making sure your recovery is smooth and your pain is controlled.
In conjunction with Patient Safety Awareness Week, ASA developed a checklist to help patients prepare for an outpatient procedure:
1. Do your homework – Before surgery, make sure:
* The surgeon/physician is board certified in the right specialty by visiting www.certificationmatters.org. Be sure the surgeon – as well as the nurses and other staff – have plenty of experience performing your specific procedure.
* The facility is licensed. If you’re having the procedure at an outpatient surgery center or at a physician’s office, be sure it’s licensed (check with your state’s health department) and accredited by an organization such as The Joint Commission, the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) or the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF).
* Emergency procedures are in place. Complications are rare but they can happen. Be sure the center has emergency medications and equipment in place and has established emergency procedures, especially if there is no emergency facility nearby. Ask if the facility has a crash cart and, if you stop breathing, does the center have the equipment and do the providers have the training to help you breathe again.
2. Find out who will provide the anesthesia – Be sure your anesthesia care is led by a physician anesthesiologist, a medical doctor who specializes in anesthesia, pain and critical care medicine and works with your surgeon to develop and administer your anesthesia care plan. With 12 to 14 years of education and 12,000-16,000 hours of clinical training, these highly trained medical specialists help ensure safe, high-quality care.
3. Discuss your medications and health – When you talk with your physician anesthesiologist before surgery, be sure to discuss your complete health history, including any conditions you have. You should also provide a list of all of the medications, supplements and vitamins you take. Some can cause problems during surgery by reacting with the anesthesia. Your physician anesthesiologist may tell you to stop taking some medications before surgery.
4. Follow pre-surgical directions – For most types of anesthesia (other than local), you may be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight before your procedure. This is for your safety because – although rare – food or liquid in your stomach could get into your lungs while you’re under anesthesia. In some cases, you may be able to drink clear liquids.
5. Plan for recovery time – It will take time to recover from anesthesia and surgery – the amount of time depends on the surgery and type of anesthesia you have. Be sure a friend or family member waits for you during your procedure, brings you home afterward and stays with you for at least 24 hours because you likely will need help. You may not be able to drive for awhile, especially if you are taking pain medication.
6. Do your best to get healthy – Spend time before the procedure exercising, eating right and getting good sleep so that you’re in the best shape possible to have surgery. It’s very important to stop smoking. Smoking can cause problems with breathing and recovery from anesthesia, including wound infections, pneumonia and heart attack.
Physician anesthesiologists play an important role before, during and after surgery. To learn more visit asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount.