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5 things to ask your doctor before your surgery

Surgery can be one of the most frightening medical experiences. Regardless of what procedure you need to undergo, there will be risks involved. Having answers to the five questions below can help you make informed decisions about the procedure and possibly reduce your risk of a major surgical mistake.

What is the procedure you recommend, and are there alternatives?

Every doctor has their own biases, and sometimes a patient needs to challenge a doctor to get the best answer. Just because your doctor has recommended the same procedure for dozens of other patients doesn’t mean it is the only option or even the best option in your case. Learning the name of the procedure and about any alternative procedures can help you do some research about the surgery.

What is the ideal outcome?

Surgical outcomes vary from near perfect to disastrous. Knowing exactly what your surgeon hopes to achieve with the procedure can help you explore if there may be a less-invasive means of achieving the same end. It can also help you understand if the results of the surgery justify undergoing the procedure.

What are the risks and common side effects?

Every procedure has specific risks. Your doctor should have an idea about the most common issues that arise with the procedure they recommend to you. They should also help you understand the side effects that the procedure may cause so that you can determine if the surgery is the right choice.

What will the recovery process involve?

Your treatment doesn’t end when they roll you out of the operating room. While the surgery itself may be over, you can expect days if not weeks of recovery. You should have a good idea about what obligations you will have to fully recover, like attending physical therapy. You should also know what to expect in general, such as what levels of pain you might endure and how the surgery will impact your functions in the short term.

How many times have you performed this procedure?

If this would be the first time your surgeon is going to perform this particular operation, they could be more likely to make a mistake. On the other hand, knowing that your surgeon has performed a procedure hundreds of times may put you at ease. No matter their level of experience, mistakes are still possible.

Asking the right questions before you go under the knife can help you make informed decisions about your medical care and protect yourself from serious surgical errors.