You put your trust in surgeons and expect them to take the best possible care of you while you are on the operating table. Unfortunately, surgeons can make mistakes just like everyone else, even though their mistakes have much more serious consequences. While it is ultimately up to your medical team to prevent errors during surgery, the following steps allow you to take a proactive role in your health and well-being.
Bring someone with you the day of the surgery
Even if you are undergoing a minor procedure, having a person with you on that day can make a huge difference. Be sure to inform the person accompanying you about the procedure and the medical condition/illness it is treating. Also, inform the person about which body part will be affected by the surgery. Doctors can occasionally perform surgery on the wrong area of the body, which will obviously have disastrous results. Instruct this person to speak up on your behalf if he or she feels your care is not up to par.
Read consent forms carefully
A consent form gives hospital staff permission for certain acts, including performing a medical procedure on you. Do not just gloss over the consent form when given, read it carefully from top to bottom. For example, make sure the form you have been given lists your correct name and the procedure you are undergoing. If you have any questions or concerns about the form, do not sign it. Instead, ask your doctor for clarification before moving forward.
Ask about side effects & complications
Your doctor will discuss side effects and complications at some point leading up to the surgery. However, it is recommended that you discuss this information again on the day of the procedure. Patients must be able to tell the difference between a common, expected side effect and something that signals a serious health risk. If you experience significant pain or a side effect that is unexpected, contact your doctor or nurse immediately.