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FAQs About Surgery at Hunterdon Medical Center
- My doctor says I need surgery; now what?
- Is my surgery covered by insurance?
- What pre-op testing do I need?
- Where and when can I have my pre-op testing completed?
- What do I need for pre-op testing?
- How should I pack for my stay at the hospital?
- Do I need to abstain from food or drink before surgery?
- How do I know what time to be at the hospital the day of my surgery?
The Day of Surgery
- What must I have with me when I am admitted?
- Do I need a living will and/or advance directive?
- Where should I go the day of surgery?
- Who will be in the operating room during my surgery?
- What types of anesthesia are available?
- How do you determine what type of anesthesia I need?
- What are the side effects of anesthesia?
- Will I wake up during surgery?
- How soon after surgery will I wake up?
- Where is the surgical floor located in the hospital?
- Are the rooms private?
- What amenities are available?
- How do you facilitate my recovery?
- How long will I stay in the hospital?
At Home after Surgery
My doctor says I need surgery; now what?
Any surgery that is scheduled ahead of time is considered elective. Emergency surgeries are non-elective because their lifesaving nature requires that action be taken immediately.
If your doctor has informed you that you need surgery, your first step is to contact your insurance company to determine what services and providers are covered. You should then schedule your pre-operative testing.
Is my surgery covered by insurance?
Each insurance plan has different requirements to be met before obtaining approval for a surgical procedure. You must contact a representative from your insurance company to make sure all of our services and providers are covered and that any required referrals and second opinions have been obtained.
What pre-op testing do I need?
Your doctor will require that you undergo diagnostic testing and laboratory procedures before your surgery to make sure that you are in optimal condition for recovery. Depending on your age and medical condition, these may include:
- blood tests
- urine tests
- CAT scan or X-rays
It is at this point in time that patient education is conducted.
Where and when can I have my pre-op testing completed?
For the most part, pre-op testing can be completed right at Hunterdon Medical Center. You can schedule your pre-op testing up to two weeks before your surgery, although certain blood work must wait until the days immediately before. The Ambulatory Testing Center is located on the hospital's second floor. You can schedule pre-op testing between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 908-788-6666 to schedule your testing.
What do I need for pre-op testing?
It is important to make sure your insurance plan provides coverage for these tests and that all tests are performed by approved providers. Bring your insurance card, a driver's license and two other forms of identification to your appointment.
How should I pack for my stay at the hospital?
First, we'll tell you what not to bring. These include any prescriptions from home, as your doctors will want to administer and monitor all of your medications, and any valuables. What you'll want is comfortable pajamas or loose-fitting clothing and personal toiletries. Slippers and a robe are useful.
Do I need to abstain from food or drink before surgery?
Typically, surgical patients are advised to not eat or drink anything after midnight the night prior to surgery. However, your surgeon may have specific requirements depending on the surgery you are having. It is best to confer with your surgeon at least a week prior to surgery to find out his or her recommendations.
How do I know what time to be at the hospital the day of my surgery?
A representative from your surgeon’s office will call the night before and confirm what time your operation has been scheduled and what time to report to the hospital – usually an hour before surgery.
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THE DAY OF SURGERY
What must I have with me when I am admitted?
Bring a valid insurance card and any authorization forms from your insurance company. Don't forget payment if your insurance plan has a deductible. Also bring a copy of your Living Will (link to corresponding question regarding living will and advance directive) or Advance Directive (link to corresponding question regarding living will and advance directive) if one isn't already on file at the hospital.
Do I need a living will and/or advance directive?
Making decisions ahead of time regarding life-sustaining treatment should you become unable to do so for yourself is the best gift you can give your loved ones struggling in a crisis.
A Living Will is a document or statement that indicates the life-sustaining measures you would like performed or denied, including CPR, antibiotic treatments and life support. It can be very specific or general.
New Jersey law requires that we ask whether or not you have done so in the form of a Living Will or Advance Directive as part of Admissions. You should discuss your plans with your physician ahead of time to ensure that you are both comfortable with your choices.
To obtain information on Advanced Wills and Living Directives, stop by the Admitting Office or ask one of your nurses.
Where should I go the day of surgery?
Go to the Same Day Center on the second floor of the hospital at the time designated by your surgeon’s office. At this time, you will be fitted with an identification band. This is for your protection and should remain around your wrist at all times.
You will be given a hospital gown and prepped for surgery.
Depending on the procedure you are having, you will walk or be rolled on a stretcher to the operating room holding area. Your surgical nurse and anesthesiologist will then ask you questions about your medical history, your present condition and any allergies or medications you are taking. Don't be alarmed or annoyed by these questions. Although they seem repetitive or obvious, they are completely necessary and are for your own safety.
Who will be in the operating room during my surgery?
Your surgeon will be joined by one or more surgical assistants or physicians, as well as an anesthesiologist to control your pain level and monitor your overall condition. There will also be a nurse overseeing your needs and a scrub nurse who prepares the instruments and supplies.
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- Local anesthesia: Used only for minor procedures on a specific area of the body, local anesthesia involves the injection of a local anesthetic (numbing agent) directly into the surgical area to block pain sensation. The patient may remain awake, although he or she typically receives medicine to help relax or sleep during the procedure.
- Regional anesthesia: Used to block pain to a larger but still limited part of the body, regional anesthesia includes the injection of a local anesthetic (numbing agent) around major nerves or the spinal cord. Again, the patient may be awake, but will likely receive medicine to help relax or sleep during the procedure. Types of regional anesthesia include spinal blocks and epidurals.
- General anesthesia: Given intravenously (through a vein) or inhaled, general anesthesia affects the entire body, including the brain. The patient is completely unaware and does not feel any pain during surgery. Additionally, patients who receive general anesthesia often experience forgetfulness (amnesia) immediately following surgery (postoperative period).
How do you determine what type of anesthesia I need?
The type of surgery you are having often determines the type of anesthesia used. Many minor procedures are typically performed using local anesthesia. Other surgeries are best performed using a regional anesthesia, while major surgical procedures require general anesthesia for the patient.
An anesthesiologist will also review your health history prior to the procedure.
What are the side effects of anesthesia?
The anesthesiologist will discuss the risks and benefits associated with the various anesthetic options. Although all types of anesthesia involve some risk, major complications or side effects are quite rare.
New anti-nausea drugs and better monitoring have reduced the risk of complications from anesthesia in recent years.
An anesthesiologist is in the operating room during your entire surgical procedure. Some complications or side effects can occur with each anesthetic option even while being monitored carefully.
The anesthesiologist collaborates with your surgeon to …
- Monitor your wellbeing and safety throughout your surgery
- Develop a plan with you for your anesthetic
- Provide your anesthetic
- Plan your pain control with you
- Give any transfusions you may need
- Offer immediate care following anesthesia
Will I wake up during surgery?
If you are having general anesthesia, you should not wake up during surgery. Your anesthesiologist will be with you at all times to ensure that a sufficient amount of anesthesia is provided to produce a state of unconsciousness. If you are having general anesthesia, you will be asleep [unconscious] – perhaps even with dreaming – during your entire operation.
With other types of anesthesia, such as regional or local anesthesia with sedation, it is more likely you will wake up during surgery. Because the numbing agent used during these types of anesthesia are designed to prevent pain, many patients wake up during surgery but are not uncomfortable. If you develop pain during a local or regional anesthesia procedure, it is important to tell your anesthesiologist right away.
How soon after surgery will I wake up?
Most patients wake up within minutes following the end of the operation. When you wake up depends on your age, operation and medical conditions. Typically, the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist stops administering anesthesia medications as surgery is finishing or bandages are being applied, Shortly thereafter, you will emerge, or “wake up,” from the anesthesia.
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Where will I go when my surgery is complete?
You will be transported to the PACU, or Post Anesthesia Care Unit, where you will be under continuous monitoring until you awaken. After clearance from your attending surgeon, you will be returned to your room. This usually takes from one to two hours following the completion of your surgery.
The combination of surgery plus anesthesia may result in some discomfort following surgery.
Some common symptoms after surgery with anesthesia include:
- Sore throat
Your anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist, along with the nurses in the post-op area will do their best to minimize these side effects as you fully emerge from anesthesia.
Pain is also common following surgery. Your anesthesiologist and your surgeon will develop a plan to minimize your discomfort after an operation. They may offer local anesthetics at the surgical site, as well as intravenous and oral pain medications.
Patients who go home after their operation are typically provided with oral pain medication to use during the first few days after surgery. Patients who are admitted to the hospital following surgery may have more options for pain control, including pain medication on demand (commonly referred to as PCA – patient-controlled analgesia) and continuous regional anesthesia, such as an epidural.
You may also bruise after surgery. Even if the surgical incision is quite small, a larger area of your body may be disrupted beneath the incision, and bruises commonly develop.
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What amenities are available?
The staff of the Surgical Specialty Unit strives to make your stay as pleasant as possible. Upon arrival in our Surgical Specialty Unit, you will receive a gift bag with slippers, toiletry items such as a toothbrush and toothpaste and soap and shampoo, bottled water and mints. Room service is available from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
How do you facilitate my recovery?
Along with providing the medical care you need following surgery, Hunterdon’s Surgical Specialty Unit offers holistic nursing care, to treat your whole body. Some of the holistic services we offer include:
- Soothing lotions for a back rub
- Herbal teas
- Heated blankets
- Spiritual literature
- Videos and music for meditation and relaxation
- Pet therapy
- Music therapy
Discharge from the surgical unit is based on a number of factors. Typically, you need to be able to urinate on your own, be no longer nauseous and have your pain under control.
Ask your surgeon for more information on how long he or she anticipates your hospital stay to be.
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AT HOME AFTER SURGERY
What are my instructions for recovering at home?
You will be given detailed instructions for recovering at home when you are discharged from either the Same Day Center or the inpatient Surgical Specialty Unit.
Additionally, you may be provided with prescriptions for medication that your surgeon deems necessary for your recovery. These prescriptions can be filled at our retail pharmacy on site in Hunterdon Medical Center before you even leave the hospital.
Please be sure to follow all discharge instructions as noted to avoid infections and to recover quickly.
Do I need to meet with my surgeon after I go home?
Yes. You should schedule a follow-up appointment with your surgeon before leaving the hospital. Typically, this appointment should be scheduled for two weeks after your surgeon, sooner if your surgeon suggests otherwise.
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