What to Expect

Doctor discuses surgery with patient.


  • Be sure not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery unless otherwise instructed by your physician. This includes the use of gum, mints, water, coffee and soft drinks. If you do not follow instructions about NOT eating or drinking and having an adult to drive you home, your surgery may be canceled.
  • Medications - Stop all herbal supplements and diet aids. Stop all blood thinners (Coumadin, Plavix, Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Aspirin) unless otherwise instructed by your physician. You should take all heart and blood pressure medications or medications ordered for colon surgery as directed, the morning of surgery, with a small sip of water.
  • Shower the night before and the morning of surgery using Hibiclens? soap, also known as Chlorhexadine. Hibiclens? is available at all local pharmacies without a prescription. If you do not have Hibiclens?, bathe in an antibacterial soap.
  • If you smoke, do not smoke after midnight or the morning of scheduled surgery. This is important to prevent post-procedure respiratory conditions.
  • Men should shave the evening prior to surgery. Women should not shave their legs 2-3 days prior to surgery.
  • Fingernails - you may wear polish; however leave one finger without polish as it will be used to monitor your oxygen saturation.
  • Dress casually - wear clothing that is loose fitting and comfortable.
  • If you become ill or have fever the day before surgery, notify your physician immediately.
  • Leave personal valuables, such as jewelry, money, and credit cards, at home.
  • You may wear your glasses, dentures or contact lenses (don't forget a case for storage), but they should be given to your family for safekeeping while you are in surgery.
  • If you are scheduled to stay overnight, please leave belongings in your vehicle until your room assignment has been made.
  • Your anesthesia practitioner may attempt to phone you the night before your surgery.
  • In most cases, plan to arrive at least one-and-one-half to two hours prior to your scheduled surgery start time.

What to bring with you to your surgery

  • A list of your current medications.
  • Your driver's license or state issued ID card. Your name will be listed on your medical record exactly as it appears on this card.
  • A list of prior surgeries and the dates the surgeries were performed.

Going Home

  • If your surgery is an outpatient procedure, you can expect to leave the facility within two (2) hours after the procedure. The average length of stay is five to six hours from admission to discharge.
  • A responsible adult who can drive you home must accompany you at the time of discharge. You cannot drive or operate machinery for 24 hours after your outpatient surgery. Please make arrangements for a driver before the surgery. It is important to have someone stay with you the first 24 hours after your surgery.
  • If you are having major surgery, you should plan to have someone at home to help with your care after discharge. If you need support with discharge planning, ask your nurse to schedule a visit with a case manager while you are here.
  • If needed, you doctor may decide to admit you to the hospital, we will contact your family to make plans for your stay.

The average hospital stay for joint replacement is about three or four days after having a hip or knee replacement.  You will remain in the hospital until you are able to walk longer distances and are making consistent progress:

  • Get in and out of bed
  • Get up and down from the chair and toilet
  • Get in and out of the shower by yourself
  • Walk with assistance for 200 feet
  • Use the stairs if you have them at home
  • Get dressed
  • Get in and out of your car
  • Perform your knee exercise program on your own

Reduce the Risk of Surgical Infection and Mistakes

What you can do:

  • Ask your primary care provider if there are any immunizations that might prevent commonly spread community diseases that you should have before your surgery.
  • Follow your physician’s pre-operative bathing/ shower instructions completely regarding the use of antiseptic skin cleansers and take special care to thoroughly clean the intended surgical site as well.
  • Make sure your caregivers wash/clean their hands before and after caring for you.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • While in the hospital, ask sick family and friends not to visit.
  • Clean/wash your hands regularly. Be careful not to touch your incision after your surgery with unclean hands. Do not touch your face, nose or mouth area and then touch your incision.

What we can do:

  • Use clippers instead of razors to remove hair before surgery
  • Administer a prophylactic, or preventive, antibiotic 1 - 2 hours before the surgery, in appropriate patients and dependent upon the type of surgery performed.
  • Stop preventive antibiotics 24 hours following the surgery or 48 hours following heart surgery.
  • Ensure that heart surgery patients have normal blood sugar levels following surgery.
  • Ensure that all surgery patients have a normal body temperature immediately following surgery.


What you can do:

  • Ask questions. It is okay to ask questions and to expect answers that you understand. Speak up if you have concerns.
  • Think of yourself as our partner in care, be an active participant in regards to your safety and the quality of your health care. Studies show that patients who are actively involved in making their health care decisions are more likely to have positive outcomes.
  • You and your doctor should agree on exactly what will be done during your surgery.
  • Insist that your surgery be done at a Joint Commission-accredited facility. Joint Commission accreditation is considered the “gold standard,” meaning that the hospital or surgery center has undergone a rigorous on-site evaluation and is committed to national quality and safety standards.
  • Ask to have the surgical site marked with a permanent marker and be involved in marking the site to ensure the site cannot be easily overlooked or confused, i.e. surgery performed on the right knee instead of the left knee.

What we can do:

Your caregivers will ask the same questions several times prior to your surgery:

  • Your full name? Date of birth? Last 4 digits of your social security number?
  • What part of your body is surgery going to be performed on?
  • Which side of your body is surgery going to be performed on?
  • What is the procedure that you and your doctor have agreed to have performed?

Before sedation, you and your doctor will agree upon the specific body part and side requiring surgery. You will also sign a consent form specifically authorizing the agreed upon procedure.
The specific surgical site will be initialed by your doctor with a permanent marker and this process usually includes the participation and confirmation of the patient.

A checklist of items crucial to a successful operation will be completed to ensure the surgical team is completely prepared to perform your surgery. In the operating room a final “Time-Out” will take place immediately before the surgery begins. During this time your identity, consent for surgery, surgery site marking and other specific information is reviewed by your surgical team to ensure everyone is in complete agreement on the procedure type and location about to be performed.