Questions patients should ask about surgery

By Carrie Johnson • Published: July 27th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Every year, millions of Americans undergo some form of surgery. For many, it is a very frightening process. But by speaking up and asking a few questions beforehand, patients can make the procedure feel less scary and save themselves a considerable amount of anxiety.

Your first question should be: What is the procedure being recommended? A physician should clearly explain the surgical procedure to you, describing each step involved and giving illustrative examples. Then, ask if there are different methods for performing the operation and why the surgeon chooses to do it one way instead of another.

Next, ask the surgeon why the surgery is necessary. There are a variety of reasons to have an operation, from relieving pain to diagnosing a larger problem to improving body functions. A physician should be able to explain what the purpose of the surgery is and how it will improve a patient’s condition.

This one may seem like a scary question to ask, but it’s important to know: What are the possible risks and complications from the surgery? Every surgical procedure carries some degree of risk, so it’s best to have a physician outline what the potential downsides might be. It’s also good to know what type of anesthesia will be used.

Don’t forget to ask about the surgeon’s qualifications, too. A patient can minimize the risk of complications by selecting a physician who is thoroughly trained and experienced in this procedure. Don’t be afraid to ask how many times your surgeon has performed the procedure and inquire about his or her success rate.

Finally, it’s OK to seek a second opinion. Being well-informed increases the chances a patient will be satisfied with the results of the surgery. And that’s the most important thing.