Surgery: What to Expect in the Hospital

Feb, 15, 2013


For a forty-something female (ok, I turned 50 this week), I would bet that I’ve had more nonelective surgeries than most people my age. It’s funny, though—surgery does not scare me. It never has. I have always loved my doctors, and I regard general anesthesia as a chance for the kind of deep sleep that I don’t often get. At the time of my last surgery (nothing big), I thought of several tips that can help anyone who is admitted to the hospital for a medical procedure.

10 Important Safety Tips

1. Be prepared. The day of surgery is not the time to ask your doctor how long your recovery will be. This conversation should take place well in advance, unless of course you have an emergency procedure.

2. Read all of your pre- and post-op medical forms closely. Follow the doctor’s pre-op orders to the letter so your surgery is not delayed.

3. It’s wise to have a family member or close friend with you to act on your behalf. Both in the doctor’s office before the procedure and during and after the surgery, it’s helpful to have your own patient advocate to look out for you and work with the doctors and nurses to make your hospital stay the best experience it can be.

4. Ask that your identification be checked more than once. Weird things have happened in surgery. You don’t want to wrong body part taken out or altered, or for that matter, to have the wrong surgery.

5. After you’ve checked into your room, make sure you have what you need and you where everything is: a phone to call home; the button to call the nurse, the bathroom, night lights or a flashlight, slippers for getting out of bed, and so on.

6. Wash your hands often. Hospitals are full of germs. You don’t want to leave the hospital sicker than you were when you entered.

7. Bring a list of your medications, just in case. Be sure the doctor knows what medications you take, both over the counter and prescription, and don’t forget to tell him or her about any supplements you take, as some should not be taken before surgery.

8. Go over your procedure step by step with the hospital step. Never be afraid to ask questions, no matter how dumb you think they may be.

9. Before surgery, plan your recovery period. Shop for food and toiletries ahead of time, and make sure you have reading material or movies to pass the time. If you live alone, take care to have a pal call you each day and look in on you if possible..

10. Never be afraid to speak up if you have concerns of any kinds. It’s your body, and you only have the one, after all. Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler’s Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (, certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on and

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