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Overlook Medical Center: The Patient Experience
Preoperative tests - A chest x-ray, EKG, and blood tests are usually ordered prior to surgery. Depending on your health, more extensive testing may be necessary to determine whether your body will tolerate the strain of surgery. Some women with serious medical conditions are asked to meet with the anesthesiologist prior to surgery as well.
Donating your own blood - All of our surgical patients are given the option of donating their own blood so that it can be given back to them during the procedure. When patients receive their own blood (instead of blood from the blood bank) they have a smaller chance of getting a blood-born infection. However, we rarely need to give any blood during surgery. The risk of significant blood loss during most of the surgical procedures is approximately one to three percent, so we don't recommend that all patients donate their own blood before surgery. The risk of getting an infection from a blood transfusion is estimated to be one per 100,000 transfusions. So in the rare instance when a patient needs to receive blood during surgery, she is extremely unlikely to get infected.
Preventing infection - All doctors and hospital personnel are trained to prevent infection with the AIDS virus and other types of infections through techniques known as "universal precautions."
Smoking - Smoking is not allowed anywhere inside the hospital. Smoking causes heart and lung problems and may also cause urinary incontinence and prolapse to recur after surgery. If you smoke, we would like to help you quit. Please ask about programs that can help you.
The day of surgery - Please do not eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before surgery. On the morning of surgery, you may take your regular medications with a sip of water, unless your doctor or anesthesiologist tells you otherwise. Diabetics and patients on steroids will receive special instructions from their doctor about managing their medications around the time of surgery.
The scheduling secretary will tell you what time you should check in through the Admissions Office (usually about two hours before your scheduled time for surgery). A member of the anesthesia staff will visit you. An IV will be started through a vein in your arm. Preoperative medications will be given. Some of our surgery can be performed while you are still awake, but no surgery will begin until you are completely under anesthesia.
You may find it helpful to come to the hospital with responsible family members or friends. The doctor will keep them updated as to how you are doing after your surgery.
Your hospital stay - Your doctor will tell you before your surgery if you need to stay overnight in the hospital. Most patients will need to spend at least one night in the hospital after surgery. We never send patients home from the hospital until they are ready to go. A patient is ready to go home from the hospital when she is eating regular food without difficulty; using only oral pain medication (i.e. no need for IV pain medicine); has no fever; and is able to walk in the halls on her own. If you need to use a catheter, we will make sure you are comfortable with it before you leave.
Going home - You should be able to return home by car. Make plans to have someone drive you home from the hospital - you should not drive yourself.
Driving - As you know, driving a car requires good judgment and quick responses to changes in traffic conditions. You should never drive if you are using prescription pain medicine. We encourage you to be responsible after your surgery by refraining from driving until you feel that you could react quickly in traffic as needed.
Wound care - Do not douche or use tampons after surgery. To protect your clothing from vaginal discharge or bleeding, you may wear a minipad or standard sanitary napkin. You may also wish to use a squirt bottle filled with saline solution to wash off after going to the bathroom. Spotting and reddish discharge after surgery is normal. Bright red bleeding, increasing pain or increasing redness around your incision are reasons to call your doctor.
Try to get your incisions as dry as possible after taking a shower. A hair dryer on the "cool" setting can be useful for this. Do not take a bath until your doctor tells you that it is okay to do so. If you have an incision on your abdomen, it is normal to feel occasional sudden "tugging" pains for several months after surgery. We encourage you to call us to ask about anything that seems out of the ordinary after your surgery.