Even though millions of operations are performed each year, surgery is a big decision for every person. If you are facing surgery at St. Luke's Hospital, or any hospital, take the time to learn about the surgery your doctor has recommended so you understand what's involved and feel comfortable that it's the best treatment for you. It's also important to ask questions before you undergo surgery. When you are well-informed about your treatment, the chances are better that you will be more satisfied with the results.
"Every surgery is different," says Jim Holleman, MD and general surgeon at St. Luke's Hospital. "My goal is to work with each patient to determine the best treatment for your condition based on your current health, medical history and personal preferences".
It's important to have as much information regarding your surgery as possible. Asking your surgeon questions can help you determine if surgery is right for you. Many people find it helpful to take notes or have a family member or friend with them when discussing these questions to help them remember the information their doctors provide.
Dr. Holleman encourages patients to ask the following questions:
Why do you think surgery is the best treatment?
How will the surgery improve my health or quality of life?
How long can I safely delay the surgery?
What risks are involved?
Does my health or age create a higher risk for complications?
What's the risk for death with this surgery, in general? For me, considering my age and health?
What sort of complications might arise? What are the chances of these complications happening to me?
Could more surgery be necessary?
What type of anesthesia will be used?
How long will I be in the hospital?
What can I expect during recovery?
What will my condition be when I go home?
When can I resume my normal activities and go back to work?
What, if any, limitations will I have after surgery?
Receiving a second opinion from another health care professional also can help you make your decision. Having another doctor review your case can verify your diagnosis and ensure surgery is preferable to other treatments. In addition, health insurance companies may require a second opinion and may require you to choose a doctor from its list of providers.
"Anxiety and fear are normal responses to any surgery, scheduled or elective," Dr. Holleman says, "but having a full understanding of the procedure can reduce stress and result in a better outcome. As a surgeon, it is essential for me to provide patients exceptional, compassionate care."
To discuss your surgery options or to schedule an appointment, please call St. Luke's Surgical Associates at 894-3300.
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